J&K Forest dept. withdraws ‘improper language’ for pheran, shepherds in a suspension order

A shepherd with his herd of sheep in Budgam district of central Kashmir. File photo for representational purpose only.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The J&K Forest department was forced to withdraw “improper” language used for local attire, pheran, and the local shepherd community in a suspension order by a Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) on Tuesday.

The DFO from north Kashmir’s Langate issued a suspension order against a forest official, Bashir Ahmad Dobhi, working as a Forest Guard. The order said he was “found wearing a pheran and looking like a shepherd”. 

“The territorial forest officials are part of a disciplined force and are always duty bound to wear proper dress code while performing their duties at sensitive postings,” the order reads further.

Former J&K Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said the order smacks of prejudice towards our traditions by deriding him for ‘looking like a shepherd’. “Are shepherds sub-human? Insensitive and arrogant. Hope the local admin takes action immediately,” Ms. Mufti said.

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami also criticised the officer. “Suspending an employee for donning a pheran is deeply disrespectful and undermines one’s cultural identity. In bitterly cold weather, wearing a pheran becomes a vital necessity. Additionally, equating the attire with a shepherd’s is disrespectful and reflects classist bias,” Mr. Tarigami said.

Facing the public outcry, the J&K Forest department withdrew the remarks in the suspension order and directed “an action as per the rules”.

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