Kashmiri men wearing Pheran
Kashmiri men in Pheran | Photo: Flickr

HANDWARA — The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Langate’s suspension letter has ignited a debate over its purported casteist undertones, drawing criticism from rights activists and community members.

The suspension of a forest guard for attire resembling that of a shepherd, as stated in the letter, has raised concerns about discriminatory implications and cultural insensitivity.

While acknowledging the significance of appropriate attire for forest officials, critics have denounced the association with shepherds as unacceptable. Moreover, the disparagement of the traditional Pheran attire has incited outrage, prompting questions about its impact on Kashmiri culture and identity.

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Advocate Mir Imran, a prominent rights activist, condemned the letter, denouncing it as casteist in a Facebook post. He questioned whether wearing a Pheran equated to backwardness or shepherd status, emphasizing the need for officials to uphold constitutional values and respect diverse cultural traditions.

Imran called for a thorough investigation into the incident and urged authorities to address the concerns raised by the community, stressing the importance of adherence to ethical standards.

Amidst the unfolding controversy, stakeholders are advocating for transparency and accountability in administrative actions, emphasizing the imperative of preserving dignity and inclusivity in official communications.

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The suspension order, issued by the Divisional Forest Officer Langate, cited the forest guard’s attire during a surprise inspection of the forest check-post Langate as the reason for suspension.

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