Professor offered financial help in exchange for sexual favours to varsity officials, say 4 TN women students
Four women enrolled at a college in Virudhunagar say a Math professor, also a woman, tried to convince them to take academic and financial assistance from Madurai Kamaraj University officials in exchange for sexual favours.
The students shared a recording of a 20-minute-long phone conversation with the professor, Dr. P Nirmala Devi, on social media. It went viral.
In the audio clip, the academic doesn't explicitly mention sexual favours, but she does say the officials want "help" from college students, and promises that their "separate" accounts will be credited with funds.
She says she can't take any names, as the officials are influential, and wants the conversation to remain secret.
She can't explain everything, she says, but adds she's "sure (that) - being smart people - you will understand what I am saying.
The students, on their part, repeatedly decline her offers.
Nirmala Devi has been suspended, and a case has been filed against her under IPC Section 370 and Information Technology Act Section 67.
She admits the voice in the recording is hers, but says her words were incorrectly interpreted.
D Jayakumar, a minister in the AIADMK government, said a complete enquiry would be conducted, and that the guilty would be punished. Meanwhile, DMK leader MK Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, wants a High Court-monitored CBI probe.
'RESCIND GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENT'
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit ordered a retired IAS officer to open an investigation based on a report provided by Madurai Kamaraj University, to which the Devanga Arts college in Virudhunagar is affiliated. Purohit is the university's chancellor.
The Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) has asked the Madras High Court to take up the issue suo moto. It also says Purohit's appointment as governor should be rescinded "if this investigation has to take place properly."
(A) few weeks ago, there were media reports that a South Indian governor was involved in sexual misconduct. At the same time, we saw that the Tamil Nadu governor was involved in duties that went beyond his role. When we put all this together, it is natural for us to suspect and worry about whether irregularities are occurring. The Tamil Nadu government should immediately file a criminal complaint on Nirmala Devi's recording, appointment and her talks and order an investigation, the CPI-M said in a statement.
The political analyst Sumanth Raman first said the CPI-M's allegation was a "shocker," but later felt the party's reaction was "premature."
"To cast aspersions on the TN Governor at this stage is way too premature," he wrote in a tweet. "So far only CPM and some DMK leaders are dragging his name into the issue. Need to wait for more inputs and evidence to emerge. Let's not jump the gun."