Raj Bhavan defends Nakeerran editor's arrest, slams 'yellow journalism'

gopal-arrest Gopal was arrested by the Chennai city police under Section 124 of the IPC, after a complaint from by the governor’s office | PTI

A day after the Raj Bhavan in Chennai faced the heat over the arrest of R.R. Gopal, the editor of weekly magazine Nakeerran, the Tamil Nadu governor seems to be on a denial mode to save his image. Caught in the middle of sex scandal allegations and compelled to defend, it seems the governor’s office is working hard to get his image restored. The governor’s office on Friday issued a lengthy and explanatory statement denying all the allegations made in the news reports. The statement also clarified as to what made the Raj Bhavan went on to file the police complaint against the magazine’s editor, under Section 124, for publishing a news article linking the governor to the university sex scandal and professor Nirmala Devi.

“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 the Raj Bhavan. The Governor had never visited the university guest house when he was invited there for the Mother Theresa University Convocation, which was being held in the Madurai Kamaraj University,” the statement clarified.

“The governor at no point had stayed in the university guest house,” the statement pointed out. Apparently, the Nakkeran editor was arrested under section 124 of the IPC, because the article linked the main accused, Nirmala Devi, in the university sex scandal to the Raj Bhavan and Governor Purohit there on. “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 statement said. It deserves a mention that the Nakkeeran article on the sex scandal has talked about the alleged role of R. Rajagopal, secretary to governor. Rajagopal is a senior IAS officer in Tamil Nadu, who reportedly takes care of every policy decision coming out of Raj Bhavan. In fact, Rajagopal is seen in the photos released by Raj Bhavan at the major meetings of governor, which was not a practice all the years.

Calling Nakkeeran’s report as a “Kind of Yellow Journalism”, the statement said that it is a matter of regret that even respectable people are supporting this “falsehood” and “yellow journalism.” The Raj Bhavan said that the press release was issued with a feeling of much concern and consternation. In a state which follows Thiruvalluvar and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, “people will stand by the side of righteousness, truth and goodness,” it further said.

The statement also clarifies in detail that it is absolutely false to attribute links to the Raj Bhavan and assistant professor Nirmala Devi. “There is only absolute falsehood and not a shred of truthfulness in the links attributed to the Honourable 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. This being the case, 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,” the statement said.

Raj Bhavan also says that the journalists linking the Raj Bhavan and Nirmala Devi never took efforts to clarify on this but went on to do yellow journalism. “The magazine Nakkeeran in late September, after the charge sheets had been filed and all investigation completed in the Niramala Devi case, chose to publish the article. Those who claim to be engaged in investigative journalism have not even bothered to verify the actual statement given by Nirmala Devi before the police. The height of casualness and cowardice in journalistic ethics had been reached with the publishing of the article,” the statement said.

The statement also said that neither the Raj Bhavan nor the governor was engaged in “excessive use of state power.” It also stated that the complaint was filed as per the provisions of law as the Raj Bhavan was “hurt by the continuous baseless slander.” It also said that the Raj Bhavan will never be cowed down by actions aimed at hurting the dignity of the high office.

It may be recalled that the main accused in the alleged university sex scandal case, Nirmala Devi, was arrested in April after an audio clip of her talking to girl students in the college, luring them to compromise their morals for marks, went viral. The assistant professor was arrested. But the opposition parties alleged the scandal has links to the Raj Bhavan, following which the governor had set up a one-man commission under retired IAS officer R. Santhanam to probe into the issue. Also the state’s top investigative wing, CBCID has completed its investigation and Nirmala Devi is still in prison.