August 2001 News

Scurry for burqas as deadline for dress code approaches

30 August 2001
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: BURQA-CLAD women have become a common sight in Kashmir these days, symbolising the seriousness with which they have taken the September 1st deadline set by Lashkar-e-Jabbar. According to the September 1st deadline set by Lashkar-e-Jabbar the women have to cover themselves in accordance with the Islamic dress code. Police assurances and beefed-up security have made little difference to them. The Lashkar-e- Jabbar is the group some activists of which had thrown acid on two unveiled women about three weeks ago. Scared by the gruesome incident, the women have scurried to buy the prescribed burqas. They are not willing to take risks. ''Why should someone become a martyr for a cultural revolution that is yet to take off'', said Abdul Qayoom who has bought half a dozen veils for his wife and two daughters. Some women say it was not the fear of getting defaced that is driving them to rush to burqa shops. ''We don''t want to risk any trouble on the streets'', said Kulsoom, a schoolteacher who has started wearing burqa for the first time in her life. She is aware of the deadline. ''Why wait for the deadline when I know that acid attacks could come any moment''. Her colleague Masooda is equally cautious. But her worries are different somewhat. She trembles at the thought of having to run for cover when a grenade explodes or a shootout takes place. ''Those who have ordered us to wear burqa don''t know what would happen to us if violence broke out around us. Can we run as fast while wearing the burqa?''. She resents the fact that the cultural police have not given a thought to this particular aspect. Many militant outfits have condemned the dress code edict by Lashkar- e-Jabbar. They are unanimous in denying the group''s existence. They see in the move the hand of different security agencies, to bring a bad name to their ''movement''.


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