April 2002 News

J&K women ignore militant threat to wear burqa

1 April 2002
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: Muslim women in Kashmir on Monday largely ignored a fresh threat by Lashkar-e-Jabbar militant group that they should wear veils.Lashkar-e- Jabbar had threatened to attack women who did not adhere to the strict Islamic dress code from April 1 and even to kill couples caught in ''immoral'' acts. But only about 30 per cent of women were wearing veils or covering their heads on Monday in Srinagar. Many said they had not heard about the threat.Lashkar-e-Jabbar issued its warning in a March 14 press statement that was largely ignored by the local vernacular press, although it was carried by Indian newspapers and international news agencies. ''There was nothing of this nature in the local newspapers,'' said Rifat Ara, a schoolteacher, who was seen wearing make-up and without a veil.The same group claimed responsibility last year for two acid attacks on unveiled women in Srinagar and later said all Muslim women must wear head-to-toe cloaks in public from September 10.Saima Bashir, a 24-year-old student, said she would never wear a veil. ''I do cover my head with a scarf, and I will not go beyond that,'' she said, adding she had read about the threat in The Times of India.Couples were also seen roaming the streets of Srinagar or sitting together in restaurants. ''I am aware of the threat,'' said Imtiaz Sheikh, 24, who was with his girlfriend at the Samci restaurant. ''I can''t stop meeting her as we are soon getting engaged.''


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