Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday promised “immediate” action against a female IAS official who recently made a “condoms” jibe during an interaction with schoolgirls.
At a state-level workshop organised in collaboration with Unicef, Harjot Kaur Bhamra rebuked the schoolgirls who requested that the government, which gives many incentives to students such as free bicycles and school uniforms, should also consider providing free sanitary napkins.
“There is no limit to such freebies. The government is already giving a lot. Today you want a packet of napkins for free. Tomorrow you may want jeans and shoes and, later, when the stage comes for family planning, you may demand free condoms as well,” Bumrah can be heard saying in a video that quickly went viral.
The officer’s peremptoriness was met with protestations from the girls, who insisted that the government was not doing them a favour since those in power also approach people for votes.
“Then don’t vote, become like Pakistan,” Bumrah can be heard snapping in response.
When asked about the incident on Thursday, the chief minister said: “I have seen [media] reports this morning. We have taken cognisance of her behaviour. Strict action will be taken against the official,” said Nitish.
The government has sought an explanation from Bhamra, a 1992 batch officer and current chairman and managing director of the Bihar Child and Women Development Corporation.
The National Commission for Women has also sent a notice to her. She has a week to respond.
The officer has, meanwhile, issued a signed statement expressing regret over the controversy.
Bumrah said she “regretted” the exchange, adding, “It was not meant to berate any of the participants but to encourage girls to become self-dependent.”
She said her words were occasioned by the fact that “in a patriarchical society, girls are taught to depend on others for fulfillment of their needs. They are discriminated against in course of upbringing and repeatedly told that they are not secure outside the confines of their homes”.
Bumrah also underscored that a scheme has been in place since 2016 under which Rs300 is given to each girl student for maintaining menstrual hygiene. A move is afoot to equip secondary and high schools with sanitary pad vending machines, she added.
“A number of other problems faced by the girl students at schools had been raised at the workshop. All of these are being squarely addressed by the education department,” she said.