A day after Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit behaved inappropriately with a woman journalist, and patted her on the cheek during a press conference, the Governor issued an apology and a justification on Wednesday. In a letter to the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian of The Week, the Governor expressed his regret and apologised for hurting sentiments.
"I have received your email dated 18.4.2018. You had asked a question when we had got up and were proceeding to leave after the close of the Press Conference. I considered that question to be a good one. Therefore, as an act of appreciation for the question that you had posed, I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter," the Governor justified in his letter.
"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. I do understand from your mail that you are feeling hurt about the incident. I wish to express my regret and my apologies to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt. I suppose you will respond through a mail of acknowledgement," the Governor said.
Lakshmi responded to the letter on Twitter, and said, "Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai the previous day. I accept your apology, even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked."
Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai the previous day. I accept your apology, even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked. @TheWeekLiveâ Lakshmi Subramanian (@lakhinathan) April 18, 2018
Banwarilal had called for a press meet on Tuesday as he had completed six months in office, but as his name kept cropping up in a phone conversation in which a professor of Madurai Kamaraj University tried to lure four of her students into performing sexual favours for certain âhigher authoritiesâ, most of the questions thrown at him revolved around the controversy that has sent shockwaves across Tamil Nadu.
Right after the press conference, when Banwarilal stood up to leave, journalist Lakshmi Subramanian asked him a question. Instead of responding, he reached out and patted the journalist on her cheek. Understandably repulsed by the violation of her body, the journalist tweeted a photo of the incident.
The picture caused massive outrage online, and also invited the wrath of journalists. 200 journalists from Tamil Nadu wrote a letter to Banwarilal, where they pointed out that his actions actually constituted an offence which is cognisable and non-bailable, and demanded that he offer an unconditional apology to the journalist.
The Network of Women in Media in India, Chennai Chapter, also issued a statement, condemning Banwarilalâs actions.
âWe would like to reiterate what is understood world over about sexual harassment: The intention of the harasser does not count. What matters is how the person on the receiving end feels. So for the Governor, or any of his supporters, to dismiss any allegations of inappropriate conduct with statements like, âI am old enough to be your grandfather,â cannot be excused. Does that mean that in every case where the accused is above a certain age, they should be automatically acquitted or forgiven?â the statement said.