After Bihar IAS officer's condom remark sparks outrage, she expresses 'regret'
The incident took place at a workshop in Patna where a schoolgirl asked the IAS officer if sanitary pads can be made more affordable.
After triggering a huge uproar, Bihar IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bhamra, who snapped back at a Patna schoolgirl with a "condom" remark for asking for cheaper sanitary pads, on Thursday apologised for the incident, saying she did not intend to hurt anyone's feelings. “I express regret if my words hurt any girl's sentiments. I didn't intend to humiliate anyone or hurt anyone's sentiments,” Bhamra said in a written statement.
Riya Kumari asked the official, who is also the managing director in Bihar’s women's development department, if they could be provided with sanitary napkins at a cost of ₹20-30. “Today, you are asking for sanitary pads; tomorrow you will ask for condoms,” the bureaucrat had replied.
When the girl said people's votes determine who governs, the IAS officer replied, "This is the height of stupidity. Then don't vote. ‘Ban jao Pakistan (become like Pakistan). Do you cast ballots for money and services?"
“My question (on sanitary pads) wasn't wrong. They aren't a big thing, I can buy them but many live in slums and can't afford them. So, I asked a question not just for myself but for all girls. We went there to keep our concern and not to fight,” she told the media later.
The incident from a function on September 27, had drawn a lot of criticism on social media platforms after a video was shared by a BJP worker. It happened at a workshop 'Sashakt Beti, Samriddh Bihar' (Empowered Daughters, Prosperous Bihar) as part of the state's project on women's empowerment.
Sharing the clip on Twitter, BJP leader Amrita Rathod said “meet an IAS officer of the Nitish-Tejashwi government who asks a student to go to Pakistan for having sought sanitary pads”.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar assured that action will be taken against the officer who caused a major embarrassment for his government. “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,” he said.
The officer has, meanwhile, issued a signed statement expressing regret over the controversy that arose after a purported video footage of the incident went viral on social media.
National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma also took cognizance of the matter and sought a written explanation from the IAS officer within seven days.