Nearly two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops Friday in Indian Kashmir, burning Valentine's Day cards and posters to protest a holiday they say imposes Western values on Muslim youth. No one was hurt in the half-dozen or so incidents, and police cordoned off the area to prevent the women from marching through Srinagar 's main shopping district to continue their ransacking.
The women were from the Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, Kashmir 's only women's separatist group, whose members are also known for their fiercely conservative social views. "We will not let anyone sell these cards or celebrate Valentine's Day," said Asiya Andrabi, the group's leader, as she held a burning poster in her hand. "These Western gimmicks are corrupting our kids and taking them away from their roots."
She said that the raids were carried out "not to harm anyone but to make them realize that this is against Islam's teachings." The protesters dispersed after chanting religious slogans. Mohammad Sarwar, though, was furious as he looked over the goods tossed around his small stationery store.
"They barged in, grabbed cards and posters and burnt them outside. Most of the cards were not even Valentine cards. It is difficult to do business with such threats looming overhead," he said.
Valentine's Day has become increasingly popular in India over the past decade. But it has also become a cultural flash point, opposed each year in India by conservative Hindu and Muslim groups who see it as a reflection of growing permissiveness among young people in this tradition-bound nation.
Jammu-Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in Hindu-majority India , but fundamentalist voices have not been heeded here in the past. Past efforts by hard-line groups to enforce Taliban-style moral codes have been largely ignored by Kashmiris, reports the AP.