After pat on cheek sparks outrage, TN Governor apologizes

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday apologized to a woman journalist whose cheeks he patted after a press conference, triggering widespread criticism.

In a letter to the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, which was circulated to the media, Purohit said: “I wish to express my regret and my apologies to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt.”

Purohit said: “You had asked a question when we had got up and were proceeding to leave after the close of the press conference (on Tuesday).”

“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,” he said.

Purohit said he himself has been a journalist 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 apologize to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt.”

Reacting to Purohit’s letter, Subramanian tweeted: “Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai… I accept your apology even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked.”

Earlier, Tamil Nadu journalists had demanded an unconditioned apology from Purohit for patting the cheek of Subramanian.

Subramanian tweeted a picture in which the Governor is seen patting her cheek at the Raj Bhavan and expressed her shock over his conduct.

The Governor met the media to deny as untrue allegations of a so-called sex scandal at a leading university in the state. Journalists promptly drafted a letter informing the Governor that his conduct amounted to 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,” read the letter to the Governor.

They pointed out that whatever his intention, he had violated the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi tweeted: “Even if the intention is above suspicion, 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 had sought an unconditional apology from the Governor and an assurance that he will desist from behaving in this manner in future.

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