This Article is From Jan 31, 2017

A Tiny Newspaper And Meghalaya Governor's 'Young Ladies Club' Controversy

Protesters accused V Shanmuganathan of turning the Raj Bhavan into a "young ladies club".

Shillong: Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan would have been in office but for a tiny, five-year-old newspaper's bold decision to take on the Raj Bhavan despite pressures and risks. The Governor had to quit last week after allegations that he had "compromised the dignity of his office" and turned Raj Bhavan into a "Young Ladies Club".

It was Highland Post - a Shillong daily with fewer than 20 staff members - which blew the whistle. Its 34-year-old journalist Rikynti Marwein broke the story after meeting the woman the former Governor had allegedly molested during a job interview at Raj Bhavan last December.

The editor told NDTV that they came under pressure after they started investigating the story.

"Our story had serious charges against the Governor and we started getting call from here and there... from very influential people and even friends," said editor John Wilson Thabah.

"I was thinking I cannot keep silent. If the victim cannot speak, I should write about it. For a month, I was trying to convince her to speak the truth.... There were many victims who never dared to complain," said the reporter, Rikynti Marwein.

The report was published on January 24. It was followed by yet another in-depth expose on the next day. On Republic Day, Shillong woke up to another big story by the same newspaper - a letter by the staff of the Governor's House to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing Mr Shanmuganathan of turning the Raj Bhavan into a "young ladies club".

Of the 98 people who signed the tell-all letter to PM Modi, which had gone viral online, some told NDTV that they got courage to expose the truth after they saw the matter being reported by the media.

Mr Shanmuganathan, who had initially denied the charges, stepped down after civil society groups hit the streets in Shillong in protest. The protesters demanded that he face action. Citing absence of "documentary evidence", Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has said it is too early to order an investigation.