An Indian Administrative Service officer in Bihar has come under fire for responding to a question on providing girls with sanitary napkins by saying that soon, they might even ask for free clothes or contraception from the government.

She made her remarks during a workshop, ‘Sashakt Beti, Samriddh Bihar’, in Patna on Tuesday.

During the workshop, a student asked Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, who is also the managing director of Bihar’s Women Development Corporation, about the possibility of the government providing sanitary napkins to girls.

“When the government has been doing so many things for us, including giving us uniforms and scholarships, why can’t it give sanitary pads, which would cost only Rs 20-Rs 30?” the student asked.

Her question was followed by applause from the audience, a video of the incident which is being widely shared on social media showed.

Bamhrah responded by saying that those clapping should know that there is no end to such demands.

“Tomorrow you will say the government can give jeans pants too. And after that why not some beautiful shoes?” Bamhrah said. “Eventually, when it comes to family planning you will expect the government to give you family planning methods, and condoms, too. Why is there a need to take everything for free?”

She added that the government is already providing for citizens and that expecting everything from them is wrong.

To this, the girl pointed out that the government was duty-bound to provide citizens with certain facilities as they seek their votes.

Bamhrah then said: “Don’t vote, it is your government. Become Pakistan. Do you vote in lieu of money or amenities?”

Taking cognisance of the matter, the National Commission for Women has also sought explanation from Bamhrah for her remarks. “NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to Harjot Kaur Bamhrah seeking a written explanation for her inappropriate statement,” the NCW tweeted. “The reply must be communicated to the Commission within seven days.”

Bamhrah’s response was also criticised by several persons including officials in the state government.

Bihar’s Social Welfare Minister Madan Sahani said that the officer should not have discouraged the girls.

“The workshop was meant to encourage them,” Sahani said, according to The Indian Express. “Our department secretary will speak to her on Thursday.”

Bihar Teachers Eligibility Test Sangh president Amit Vikram said that Bamhrah had failed to understand the girl’s question.

“The IAS officer should have answered differently, but she ended up insulting the student,” Vikram said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party also said that incident defeated the very purpose of the workshop.

“It was very irresponsible and insensitive on part of the officer to speak in the manner she did,” BJP spokesperson Santosh Pathak said. “And there was no need to make Pakistan reference at all.”

On Wednesday, Bamhrah responded to the criticism claiming that there was a deliberate attempt to malign her, NDTV reported.

“I am known to be one of the most vociferous champions of women’s rights and empowerment,” the officer claimed. “Some mischievous elements against whom stringent action has been taken by WCDC [Women and Child Development Corporation]...have now resorted to such low attempts to malign my reputation.”