As a local school's denying entry to girls wearing 'abaya' in Srinagar sparked a major controversy in the region, the school principal sought apology after being threatened by a terror group over the decision.
Abaya is a loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by Muslim women.
Several female students of Vishwa Bharti Higher Secondary School staged a protest against its administration on Thursday, alleging that they were denied entry to the institute for wearing abaya.
The principal earlier tried to clarify that most of the girls in the school wear hijab and she only wanted the few girls in abaya not to wear the garment inside the school.
As the situation continued to intensify, a terror group issued a statement threatening to target the principal, accusing her of being a right-wing adherent.
Following the threat, the principal issued a statement in the evening, apologising for hurting sentiment of students and parents.
"Today's conversation with the students and parents has been misrepresented. In any case, if it has hurt the sentiments of students or parents, I unconditionally apologise for the same," she said.
The students can wear abaya and no restrictions have been imposed in the classrooms, she added.
What did the students say?
"We are told we should go to a Madrassa if we want to wear an Abaya. We were not allowed inside the school," said one of the protesting students.
The students alleged the school administration told them they were "ruining the atmosphere of the school" by wearing 'abaya'.
What did the principal say?
School principal Memroz Shafi said the students have been told that they can wear abaya from home to school, but they should take it off inside the school premises.
"We told them to wear a long white-coloured Hijab or a large dupatta as that is part of the school uniform. They come wearing colourful abayas, with different designs which is not part of the uniform," he said.
The principal said the students should follow a proper dress code in order to maintain decorum in the school.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti termed the incident an attack on religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution.
"Jammu and Kashmir has become a laboratory for BJP's plans of changing Gandhi's India into Godse's India. All experiments begin from here. It started off in Karnataka and has reached Kashmir. This is not acceptable to us. There will be a serious reaction to it because wearing clothes is a personal choice. There should be no compulsion," Mufti said.
She said the ban order was an attack on religious freedom which will "not be tolerated."
National Conference (NC) chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said it was unfortunate to witness such incidents in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.
"Wearing a Hijab should be a personal choice, and there should be no interference in matters of religious attire. It is unfortunate to witness such incidents in a Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir," Sadiq said in a tweet.
The NC chief spokesperson said the party opposes the school directive and urged the administration to take immediate corrective action.
"We strongly oppose this and urge for immediate corrective action. This is the Vishwa Bharti Higher Secondary School Rainawari Srinagar. I request the @OfficeOfLGJandK, @SrinagarPolice and @AsadamAijaz (deputy commissioner Srinagar) to intervene promptly before the situation escalates," he said.
Wearing a Hijab should be a personal choice, and there should be no interference in matters of religious attire.— Tanvir Sadiq (@tanvirsadiq) June 8, 2023
It is unfortunate to witness such incidents in a Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.
We strongly oppose this and urge for immediate corrective action. This is the… pic.twitter.com/eOqjCBYOw4
(With PTI Inputs)