Jammu & Kashmir

Are shepherds sub-human, asks Mehbooba over DFO’s ‘casteist’ remark, suspension of forest employee

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Mehbooba Mufti.

Srinagar: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, expressed her dismay over the suspension of forest guard, Bashir Ahmed, by Langate’s Divisional Forest Officer, for wearing a traditional Kashmiri attire, Pheran.

Mufti criticised the decision, pointing out that the order displayed prejudice towards Kashmiri traditions by ridiculing the forest guard for ‘looking like a shepherd.’

The suspension order, Mufti argued, raises concerns about insensitivity and arrogance, questioning the implication that being likened to a shepherd is derogatory or implies subhuman status. She said the importance of respecting and preserving cultural heritage, asserting that traditional attire should be celebrated rather than stigmatised.

Mufti called on the local administration to take immediate action in response to what she perceives as a discriminatory act. She urged authorities to reconsider the suspension and address the underlying issue of cultural insensitivity within the ranks of government officials.

The incident has also sparked a broader debate on social media about the need for cultural sensitivity and inclusivity within administrative practices in the region. A number of X users have criticised the officer and sought the reversal of the order.

Earlier, Divisional Forest Officer Langate issued a suspension order claiming that during his surprise inspection of forest check-post Langate, he found one of the forest officials wearing a ‘pheran’ looking like a shepherd.

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