December 2002 News

Fight against the veil, Mufti urges Kashmiris

18 December 2002
The Hindustan Times
H Joshi, Indo-Asian News Service

H Joshi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has urged the people to take on fundamentalist elements attempting to impose a dress code on girls and stopping them from going to school. ''These people (fundamentalists) should know that even in the Islamic Republic of Iran, girls are going in for higher studies,'' said at a public meeting here. He was speaking after distributing appointment letters giving government jobs to family members of those killed by terrorists in thestate. ''There is no harm in covering the head but that should not lead to obscurantism where girls are barred from attending schools and colleges,'' he added. The Lashkar-e-Jabbar terrorist group had attempted to enforce a dress code for girls in the Kashmir Valley last year by insisting they wear the ''burqa'' or head-to-toe veil. Its activists and also shot at some women in the Valley for not obeying its dictat. Terrorist outfits have put up posters in parts of Rajouri district warning that girls should stay at home and not attend school beyond the eighth standard. More than action by the government, the people themselves should rise against such fundamentalist elements, Mufti urged. He reiterated that the solution to the problem or terrorism lay in dialogue. ''Our fight against militancy is on but we want the issue to be resolved through dialogue and not through guns''. He said that his effort was aimed at building national consensus on restoring peace in Kashmir through unconditional dialogue.


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