Netizens said that forcing people to take off Pheran in the bone-chilling cold is unacceptable.

BANDIPORA — The arbitrary removal of Pheran of people visiting the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Bandipora has led to an outrage in Kashmir.

On Tuesday, a video went viral on social media depicting people taking off their Pheran in a bone-chilling cold before entering the office of DC Bandipora.

Mohammad Amin, 68, a resident of Bandipora said that it is humiliating to ask people to remove their Pheran outside the office.

“Even senior citizens are asked to take off the Pheran outside the office and it feels very disrespectful. What are authorities trying to prove? Are we criminals?,” Amin asked. 

Asking people to take off their Pheran is wrong for all the reasons, said a 26 year-old girl from Bandipora. “If they are doing it for security reasons, then they should keep a team of 3-4 security personnel and frisk rather than subjecting people to this humiliation. They can’t expect everyone to dress formally,” she said.

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Netizens were furious after the video went viral on a micro-blogging site, Twitter.

“Please don’t normalise this! Pheran is our culture and identity,” Altaf Qadir, a Twitter user responded to the video posted by a Twitter handle @Nawakadal3 in which people were seen taking off their Pheran before entering the office.

“…This assault on pheran must not happen. Can’t eat this.. can’t wear that.. can’t have ur dead back.. can’t bury them.. can’t ride bikes.. can’t drive coz convoys… Ppl who control everything in #Kashmir seem to be the most terrified, cowardly lot [SIC],” another user Meghna commented.

In December 2018, an order was issued by a Zonal Education Officer, Agha Abdul Rashid, banning Jammu and Kashmir officials from wearing Pheran on official visits, but the order was withdrawn the next day after strong reactions across Kashmir.

The controversy resurfaced in March 2021 as Bajrang Dal called for a ban on Pheran. The Bajrang Dal’s call for banning Pheran came after two policemen were shot at point-blank range allegedly by unknown gumen, who was wearing a Pheran, in Barzulla locality of uptown Srinagar.

“Increase in security checks is somehow understandable, but that in no way means you’ll force people to remove Pheran before entering offices like secretariat,” Irfan, a 21-year-old student said, adding, “Can’t they just check and not scare people into not wearing the Pheran, which is a must in Kashmir during winters.”

“This is unacceptable. They can’t expect people to take off their Pheran in this harsh winter,” Bashir Ahmed, a resident said.

Kashmir has been reeling under intense cold wave for the past one week, with temperature plummeting below zero.

Owais Ahmed, the Deputy Commissioner of Bandipora, reacted to the controversy on his Twitter handle. After a user tagged him and asked him about the order, he wrote: “No such order/instruction have been issued from DC office. Moreover the security personnel have been directed to minimise inconvenience while routine checking [SIC].”

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