About 200 journalists, mainly from Tamil Nadu, have written to Governor Banwarilal Purohit condemning him for “harassing” a senior journalist during a press conference on Tuesday, reports said.
Purohit is in the eye of a storm after patting the cheek of a lady reporter in response to a question posed by her. The journalists have demanded an unconditional apology from the Governor to the journalist in question, and an assurance that he will not violate the rights of journalists in the future.
“Your action today in touching the cheek of a senior lady reporter who asked you a question at the press meet was patronising at best and a violation of her rights as a woman at worst. She was there since you had called for a press meet and simply discharging her duty as a journalist,” the petition stated.
“We do not wish to question your motives on this gesture, considering that it is appalling that you should choose to do such a thing at a press meet that you addressed on the case of a professor allegedly luring students to sexual encounters with her seniors and who claimed to know you,” it added.
The woman journalist, working for an English magazine, had tweeted about the incident saying Purohit decided to “patronisingly”, and without consent, pat me on the cheek in response to a question. She added, “Washed my face several times. Still not able to get rid of it. So agitated and angered Mr Governor Banwarilal Purohit. It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me you are wrong.”
The Chennai Press Club has demanded Purohit apologise to the journalist as well. Calling him out for his “unbecoming behaviour”, the body said, “Though you may claim to take shelter that it was an innocuous gesture from an elderly man, the law says otherwise.”
The incident has also invited criticism from the main Opposition party in the state, DMK.