Attendees of a day-long conference of “Muslim religious leaders” at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar today were made to remove their traditional winter garment, pherans, before entering the venue.
Videos of the incident went viral on social media, prompting many to point out the racial profiling of Kashmiris at the venue. Jammu and Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is scheduled to participate as the chief guest and keynote speaker.
Kashmiri journalists at the venue were also barred from covering the event despite being invited by the organisers themselves. A Kashmiri journalist, who wished anonymity, said that non-native journalists and only a select group of local journalists were allowed inside.
The event is being organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist People’s Front. An invite for coverage sent from the group stated that “On 23rd March (that also happens to be Pakistan Day), prominent Muslim religious leaders are gathering in Srinagar to discuss peace in J&K, modernisation of madrassa education, religious extremism and the need of deradicalisation etc.”
According to the organizers, prominent Muslim clerics would speak at the event. The clerics comprised non-natives and locals.
Rightwing activists based in Jammu had recently called for a ban on the pheran, triggering a controversy in Kashmir. The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang Pole had then told The Kashmir Walla that there was no official order banning the garment.