Governor Banwarilal Purohit
The Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan on Friday denied allegations that Nirmala Devi, assistant professor of a Tamil Nadu College arrested for allegedly trying to lure women students from her college to extend sexual favours to “top university officials”, had ever visited the Governor’s House.
In a statement, the Raj Bhavan called the reports in ‘Nakkeeran’, the Tamil weekly which tried to ostensibly link the case with Governor Banwarilal Purohit and his officers, “yellow journalism”.
The statement comes three days after the weekly’s editor, R Gopal, was arrested on October 9 under Section 124, which deals with “assaulting President, Governor etc with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power”, and was given bail by a magistrate court in Chennai. The statement read, “Nirmala Devi has never entered Raj Bhavan in the last one year and she does not have any acquaintance with the Honourable Governor or the Secretary to the Governor, or any of the officers working in Raj Bhavan.”
Besides questioning the role of Purohit and his officers in the sex scandal, Nakkeeran’s reports had alleged that Nirmala Devi had visited them. The Raj Bhavan stated that Purohit had never visited the university guest house when he was invited there for Mother Theresa University Convocation, which was held in Madurai Kamaraj University. “He has at no point of time stayed in the guest house,” it stated.
The statement said, “The Secretary to the Honourable Governor did not even accompany him on any visit to the Madurai Kamaraj University. It can only be a deep sense of hatred towards goodness and truth that could have driven any journalist to have written the articles in the manner they appeared in the Nakkeeran.”
The report had referred to the Governor’s secretary, R Rajagopal, a senior IAS officer. Devi was arrested in April after an audio clip of her purported conversation with women students emerged on social media in which she was heard asking students to “adjust” with some “top officials” by giving them sexual favours to get marks and money.
Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu subsequently demanded Purohit’s resignation.
On the series of reports in Nakkeeran, the Raj Bhavan stated: “It is a matter of regret that such utter falsehood and this kind of yellow journalism is being supported by respectable people who, it appears, are not aware of the facts… There is only absolute falsehood and not a shred of truthfulness in the links attributed to the Governor or the Raj Bhavan to the issue concerning a college assistant professor of Aruppukottai, known by the name of Nirmala Devi. The statement given by her before the police will itself bear out the truth.”
It stated, “It is a matter of humour to hear people say that press freedom is being threatened on the count, of action, being taken under the law after much patience and tolerance to stop a slanderous, vulgar and cowardly way of attacking the first citizen of the state.”