Senior Bihar official regrets her controversial remarks to school girl; Nitish Kumar hints at possible action

A day after senior Bihar Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Harjot Kaur Bamhrah courted controversy with her remarks to a girl student, she expressed regret over the incident on Thursday.

“I express regret if some girl or participant’s sentiment was hurt with some of my words but, the intent was not to humiliate someone or hurt someone’s sentiment but to encourage them for progress in future,” Ms. Bamhrah said in a letter issued to media persons.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has taken cognisance of Ms. Bamhrah’s remarks.

Earlier in the day, after an official engagement at an investors’ meet, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told media persons that he was “monitoring everything” and action would be taken if anyone was found guilty.

“We are helping women for empowerment in the State. I came to know about it when I was coming here as some Delhi-based newspapers too have carried this. I’m monitoring each and everything and if someone will be found guilty, action will be taken,” Mr. Kumar said.

Ms. Bamhrah was seen rebuking a girl student of a government school in a video of the programme that went viral on social media on Wednesday.

“When the government is providing us school uniform, scholarship and so many things, why can’t it provide Whisper [a brand of sanitary pads] ₹20-30?” the student had asked Ms. Bamhrah at a “ Sashakt Beti, Samridh Bihar (empowered daughters, prosperous Bihar): Towards enhancing the value of girls” workshop.

The official is seen responding, “There is need to change the mindset. Why [should] the government provide you everything free? Tomorrow you’ll say government can provide jeans and why not some beautiful shoes thereafter? And eventually, at the time of family planning, you will expect government to provide Nirodh [a brand of condoms] too.”

Ms. Bamhrah, an IAS officer of 1992 batch, is also Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare Department, and heads the State Women and Child Development Corporation.

The programme was organised by the State Women and Child Development Corporation, UNICEF and other international organisations in Patna on Tuesday. The NCW has asked the officer to reply within seven days.

When media persons had sought her reaction to the video, Ms. Bamhrah had said, “It’s all false, malicious and wrong reporting of an event. I’m known as one of the most vociferous champions of women’s rights and empowerment. Some mischievous elements might have resorted to such low attempts to malign my reputation.”

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