state news

Tamil Nadu governor denies links with professor accused of luring students into sex work

Nirmala Devi, a professor at a private arts college in Virudhunagar district, had earlier claimed that she knew Banwarilal Purohit.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Tuesday denied any link with a professor accused of luring female students of Devanga Arts College in Virudhunagar district for sex work.

Nirmala Devi, who was arrested earlier in the day, had claimed that she knew the governor, who is also the chancellor of the Madurai Kamaraj University to which the college is affiliated.

In an audio clip that was leaked online on Sunday, Devi is heard telling the students of an “opportunity” to do “certain things” for senior officials of the university. Devi has accepted that it is her voice in the audio clip. However, she claimed that the students had misinterpreted her.

“For doing something successfully, they [the officials] are expecting college students for certain things,” she is heard saying in the audio clip. “I believe, being college students, you understand what they expect. If you accept this scheme, MKU [Madurai Kamaraj University] will be your backbone.”

The governor said he had never even seen the professor. “I attend so many convocations,” Purohit told reporters during a press conference in Chennai. “Most of the members are on the dais. I have not seen her face till date. I am surrounded by my entire team. Even the world cannot approach me without my permission.”

The governor said the allegations were not true. “It is total falsehood,” he claimed. “I completely ignore the allegations. It [the investigation] will be completely transparent.”

Purohit promised that strict action would be taken against the guilty. Retired Indian Administrative Service officer R Santhanam has been asked to investigate the charges and submit a report within a week.

Purohit said the vice chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University had initially formed a committee on their own without consulting him. “Only chancellor is empowered to constitute the committee,” Purohit told the reporters. “They have rectified their mistake and now a one-man committee will thoroughly examine everything.”

When asked if the commission could interrogate him, Purohit said: “I do not want to reply to such questions. I am 78. My life is very transparent.”

Purohit’s press conference came a day after his name was dragged into the controversy. However, he claimed that it was held because he had completed six months as the governor of the state.

The Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department of the Tamil Nadu Police is also investigating the case, The Hindu reported.

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