Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday took cognizance of the row over Bihar IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bhamra’s heated exchange with a teenage student over sanitary pads went viral and said action will be taken in the matter. In response to a student’s query on whether the government can ensure the availability of sanitary pads at affordable rates, Bhamra snapped back saying “you’d demand condoms too from the government.”
“I’ve immediately called a meeting. We’re helping to empower women. I’m monitoring each and everything. Action will be taken,” the Chief Minister told reporters in Patna today.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) also pulled up the IAS officer and sought an explanation for her alleged remarks within seven days. Bhamra, who serves as Managing Director of the Bihar Women and Child Development Corporation, has maintained that her remarks have been misconstrued by the media and that she has always stood against gender discrimination.
After the girl’s question drew applause from the crowd, Bhamra retorted, “I want to ask something to the ones who are clapping — is there any end to these demands? Tomorrow you will ask anything from the government – be it jeans or shoes. Then when it will come to family planning, you would also expect condoms from the government. What is the need to have such expectations? Why should the government provide everything for free?”
When the student confronted the bureaucrat and said that the government is for the people as they are the ones who vote, Bhamra said, “This is stupidity. Be like Pakistan then. Do you only vote for money and services?”
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Her comments didn’t go down well with many, including former Union Minister and Congress MP Manish Tewari. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Always wondered what breeds such arrogance in this tribe of All India Service officers. Permanence of service? Deficiency in training? Lucrative positions? After all they pass just one exam in their entire life.”
After the videos of the workshop went viral, Bhamra threatened to take legal action against Dainik Bhaskar, the newspaper which broke the story.