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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Jamaat softens dress code stance after outcry

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, July 05, 2012
First Published: 19:02 IST(5/7/2012) | Last Updated: 23:28 IST(5/7/2012)

A day after Jamaat-e-Islami issued a dress code advisory for tourists, it changed its tone saying "it not was threatening to enforce any dress code; it was just an appeal".

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After the hardline outfit issued a dress code advisory for tourists, locals have questioned the motives of the separatist group.

It had "advised" visitors, especially foreigners, to "dress properly and respect local ethos".

"Cultural sensitivity and common sense among tourists do not need a Jamaat thekedaari stamp. Especially not with warning undertones," said Sabbah Haji, a well-known writer, who runs a school in upper reaches of Doda.

Echoing the same voice, several women are asking Jamaat to differentiate between modest and immodest dress code.  

"I wish the Jamaat had first looked in our society. Muslim boys are seen in revealing low-waist jeans in all mosques. Local girls are also seen wearing hijab (headscarf ) with a tight top and skinny jeans. Dress code for whom?" asked Shoaib Noor, a student of Kashmir University.

After the public outcry over the issue, the Kashmiri religious group on Thursday changed tone and tenure of its earlier statement saying "it not was threatening to enforce any dress code;  it was just an appeal".

"We are not enforcing any dress code as is being project by the media. We are just making an appeal to respect local sensibilities. We have no issues with jeans or tops but dresses like miniskirts should be avoided…our main cause of worry is growing alcoholism among our youth because of public consumption of the same at tourist places," said Jamaat spokesman Zahid Ali told the Hindustan Times.

Jamaat has failed to get any support from separatist groups on forcing any dress code, including hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Most separatist leaders, whom HT approached, distanced themselves from it and preferred silence.

Tourists staying in Kashmir are unmoved by the diktats.

"We were not approached by anyone at any public space. People are assuring all support and cooperation," said Reena Mathur, a Delhi resident.

"There is nothing on ground to scare us," she added.

The number of tourists to the Valley is expected to cross 2 million this year, surpassing the record 1.3 million footfalls recorded last year.

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