The Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir has asked tourists visiting the Valley not to wear skimpy clothes and threatened them with consequences if they failed to comply with the diktat. The Jamaat has stated that many tourists, especially foreigners, have been seen wandering in mini-skirts and other objectionable attire. They claim it is against values, local ethos and culture. The Jamaat said it was unacceptable.

There has been widespread condemnation and fury at what is being called the Talibanisation of J&K with this dress code. The outrage is justified, as tourism has peaked in the strife-torn valley and such statements will only deflate that bubble as tourists become wary of the ‘consequences and reactions’ that the Jamaat speaks about.

A dress code cannot become a state policy. An individual organisation may impose certain codes in dressing, for certain justified purposes, but for a state to impose a dress code is not only ridiculous and unthinkable but also very regressive.

Moreover, like most such diktats this one has grey areas like how one would define skimpy dressing, what might be skimpy for someone may not be skimpy for the others. Then, there is also the question of whether the Jamaat is the repository of the values, culture and ethos of Kashmiri people. They cannot speak for a state’s values. What may be offensive to one person may not be so to the other. These values too are subjective. It is also shocking that separatists are now ordering people what to wear in the state and how to conduct themselves.

The dress code needs to be criticised in the strongest possible terms. One needs a strong reaction from the Government, especially because potential tourists would be looking for words of reassurance from the Government if they want to travel to the state. It is so fundamentalist and backward that it needs to be slammed. Let tourism bloom in J&K, as for long it has been splattered by blood and bullets.