Bihar officer sparks furore with 'condom next' comment; CM Nitish Kumar hints at action against her
The officer has now issued a signed statement expressing regret over the controversy that arose after a purported video footage of the September 27 function went viral on social media
A senior official in Bihar Women and Children Development Corporation (WCDC) and IAS officer, Harjot Kaur Bamrah sparked controversy with her responses to questions by a girl student who asked if they could be provided with sanitary napkins at a cost of rupees 20-30.
On Wednesday, a video of the officer’s shocking reaction to a girl student’s question at the 'Sashakt Beti, Samriddh Bihar' event, organised by the Corporation and Unicef went viral on the internet. The event was part of a project that has the tagline ‘Towards enhancing the value of girls'.
When the girl student asked Bamrah that while the government was providing school dress, scholarships, bicycles, and other facilities to students if it could provide pads for cheaper prices, Bamrah hit out, saying that these weren’t questions but endless demands.
“Today, you are asking for sanitary pads; tomorrow you will ask for condoms,” she reportedly said, adding that tomorrow these students would start demanding clothes and shoes.
“You will soon expect the government to provide you with family planning options, as well as condoms," she added.
When the girl responded to the officer’s reply by saying that people's votes determine who governs, the officer asserted, "This is the height of stupidity. Then don't vote. Ban jao Pakistan (become like Pakistan). Do you cast ballots for money and services?”
To this, the student’s reply was, "I am an Indian. Why should I?”
As the video went viral across social media platforms, her reaction drew severe criticism from people. Responding to Bamrah’s reaction, the National Commission for Women (NCW) sought an explanation from the officer for her remarks.
Bihar’s Social Welfare Minister Madan Sahani said that the officer should not have discouraged the girls. “The workshop was meant to encourage them,” Sahani said, reported The Indian Express. “Our department secretary will speak to her on Thursday.”
While responding to the criticism, Bamrah claimed that it was a deliberate attempt to malign her, NDTV reported.
“I am known to be one of the most vociferous champions of women’s rights and empowerment,” the officer claimed. “Some mischievous elements against whom stringent action has been taken by WCDC...have now resorted to such low attempts to malign my reputation.”
The officer has also issued a signed statement expressing regret over the controversy that arose after a purported video footage of the September 27 function went viral on social media.
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday hinted that action may be taken against senior woman IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bumrah whose indiscretion during a recent interaction with school girls has caused a major embarrassment for his government.
Kumar, who was approached by journalists with queries about the National Commission for Women (NCW) slapping a notice on Bumrah, said, "Orders are in place to inquire into the issue which I learnt about through newspapers. We are committed to providing all assistance to the state's women. If the IAS officer's behaviour is found to be against that spirit, action will be taken."
With PTI inputs