MADURAI: Friendly and soft-spoken are the adjectives Nirmala Devi's colleagues, students and seniors use profusely while referring to her. Nirmala has been in the eye of the storm ever since an audio clip, in which a voice, purportedly hers', is heard allegedly luring some students of Aruppukottai Devanga Arts College to extend certain favours to higher officials in the Madurai Kamaraj University.
One student at the Aruppukottai Devanga Arts College told Express that Nirmala was friendly with all and her name had never cropped up in any issue before. "She is a friendly and soft-spoken person. She was always ready to offer a helping hand to uplift us. In my knowledge, she never approached anybody with any dubious offers. We are all shocked over the developments. We believe she is just a pawn and only a proper inquiry would reveal the real story. She should be given police protection till the inquiry is over," she added.
Nirmala Devi (42) and husband Saravana Pandian come from well-educated and well-to-do families. They couple has two adolescent daughters, who stay with their father ever since Nirmala walked out on Saravana. When Saravana Pandian, a software engineer, was working abroad, Nirmala was with him. Later, he came to Aruppukottai to become a municipal contractor. She joined Devanga Arts College in 2008 as an assistant professor.
Expressing shock over the sudden turn of events, a Head of Department (HoD) with the Aruppukottai Devanga Arts College told Express that Nirmala was a reputable person. "She was friendly with students and had a good influence in the college. She was the in-charge of several activities like chaperoning students to various events or visiting the university on official duty," the person said on condition of anonymity.
"From March 9 to March 29, the UGC-Human Resource Development Centre and MKU organised a refresher courses for the faculty. While attending the course, students lodged a complaint against her. That refresher course was attended by around 300 teaching faculty from MKU affiliated colleges. It was revealed that there was a connection between the audio clip and the refresher course. She was suspended during the refresher course," he added.