The Haryana government on Thursday suspended Staff Selection Commission chairperson Bharat Bhushan Bharti for an allegedly derogatory question about Brahmins in an examination paper for junior engineers.

One of the multiple choice questions in the paper reportedly asked, “Which among the following is not a sign of bad omen in Haryana? An empty pitcher, a casket full of fuel, meeting a black Brahmin and the sight of a Brahmin girl.”

The decision to suspend Bharti was taken after Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met representatives of Brahmin organisations in Chandigarh, The New Indian Express reported.

State Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said the government wanted a retired High Court judge to investigate the matter because the commission is an autonomous body, The Times of India reported. The government has also sought the advice of Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan in the matter, Sharma said.

Sharma said that the commission assigns the work of preparing the question paper to an independent firm, and instructs it to abstain from using objectionable language against any community, caste or organisation. The company, which prepared this question paper, has not been identified. It has issued an apology, however, the Haryana government has blacklisted it, The Times of India reported.