Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday apologised to a senior woman journalist after he set off a firestorm by patting her cheek at a press conference at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday.

The apology came following a demand by journalists in the state after Lakshmi Subramanian tweeted a picture in which the governor is seen patting her cheek and expressed her shock at his behaviour.

In a letter to Subramanian, the governor wrote, “…I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter. It was done with affection and to express my appreciation for your performance as a journalist since I was also a member of that profession for about 40 years.”

The journalist took to Twitter to announce that while she accepted the apology, she was not convinced about Purohit’s intention.

Banwarilal Purohit had patted the journalist’s cheek at a press conference at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday that he had convened after a woman professor of Virudhunagar, arrested for trying to lure college girl students into extending sexual favours for high varsity officials, claimed she was close to Purohit. He dismissed all allegations and said they were baseless and tried to deflect tough questions from woman journalists.

But during the close of the conference, the governor patted the cheek of Subramanain, sparking outrage among journalists and


Subramanain said she was angered and agitated and described the governor’s action as an uninvited gesture.

Journalists got together and drafted a letter reminding the governor that what he has done was a non-bailable criminal offence. “As the Constitutional head of our state of Tamil Nadu, you have crossed the lines of not just basic courtesy but also those of law,” a letter collectively written by the journalists to the governor said.

“Even if your gesture is paternal in nature, touching a lady without her consent is a crime under the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998,” the letter further stated.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi said in a tweet, “Even if the intention is above suspicion, a person who holds a public office has to understand that there is a decorum to it and violating a woman journalist’s personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being.”

The journalists demanded an unconditional apology and an assurance from him that he would not repeat such action in the future.

“Mr Governor, we the journalists of Tamil Nadu demand that you offer an unconditional apology to the journalist in question and also assure all journalists of Tamil Nadu that you will not violate their rights in future,” the journalists said in a letter to him.
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