Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi has reacted sharply to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's advocacy of reopening of cinema halls in the Valley.
In a statement, Dukhtaran-e-Milat (DeM) chairperson Andrabi said the reopening of cinemas in Kashmir is a part of "larger cultural aggression" being carried out in the state.
"We warn the government that in 1988, after much hard work, we succeeded in closing down cinemas in Kashmir and under no circumstances we will allow their reopening," she said. Andrabi appealed to all the separatist groups to resist the move.
Andrabi was recently booked for hoisting Pakistani flag on Pakistan Day.
Addressing the media in Sonamarg recently, Salman was surprised that theatres are not operational in the Valley and people have to watch Bollywood movies through pirated DVDs. "Please open cinemas, pay tax. It will also help me earn more money,'' he said.
Milat, an all-woman organization, came into prominence in 1987 with attacks on beauty parlours and by throwing coloured water on young girls seen walking on roads without veil. The group was also known for its protests on Valentine's Day.
Srinagar had nine cinemas before militancy erupted in the 1980s. Militants had announced a ban on cinemas and liquor bars through local dailies in August 1989. With cinema audiences dwindling following the militants' ban on films, security forces converted four of Srinagar's eight theatres into makeshift camps and interrogation centres.
When contacted, another hardline Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar said, "People in the Valley require rehabilitation more than cinema halls right now." Akbar, however, did not say that the group would oppose opening of cinema halls.
"We will not oppose the move, but opening cinemas cannot be our priority at this point. People who have braved the September floods don't have proper food to eat,'' he said.