Outrage Over Allegedly Casteist Forest Order Issued by DFO Langate in Kupwara

In a recent development, an official letter purportedly issued by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Langate in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir has sparked controversy and allegations of casteism. The letter, bearing Forest Order No. 43 for the year 2023-24 and dated February 17, 2024, has drawn sharp criticism for its discriminatory language targeting the Shepherd Community including Gujjars, Bakerwals, and Chopans.

Social activist Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat, among others, has condemned the contents of the letter, highlighting the insensitivity towards marginalized communities. Dr. Bhat demanded severe action against the Forest Officer responsible for issuing such an order.

DFO Langate Casteist Letter Order

The letter, addressed to the Range Officer of Mawar, cites a surprise inspection conducted at the Forest Check-post Langate, during which a forest official named Bashir Ahmad Dobhi, identified as a Forest Guard, was allegedly found wearing attire resembling that of a shepherd. The DFO, in the order, asserts that forest officials are expected to adhere to a proper dress code while on duty, particularly in sensitive postings.

Consequently, pending a departmental inquiry, Bashir Ahmad Dobhi has been placed under suspension and attached to the Range Office Rafiabad with immediate effect. The Range Officer of Mawar has been instructed to make internal arrangements to fill the gap left by the suspended official until suitable staff can be posted to the check-post.

The language and tone of the letter have raised concerns about the perpetuation of caste-based stereotypes and discrimination within government institutions. Critics argue that instead of focusing on the individual’s performance and conduct, the order appears to target and stigmatize a specific community based on their traditional attire and occupation.

As calls for accountability grow louder, many are urging authorities to investigate the matter thoroughly and take appropriate action to address the underlying issues of discrimination and prejudice within the administration.

Efforts to reach out to the Divisional Forest Officer for comment on the matter have been ongoing, but as of now, no response has been received.