Army says sorry over pheran gaffe

Withdraws 'dress code' for journalists

A guideline to Kashmiri journalists not to wear 'pherans', a traditional Kashmiri attire to army press briefings has triggered a row, with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday calling it “unacceptable’.

Later, army admitted the  mistake and apologised. 

An invitation to the press briefing for Saturday of the commander of army’s Srinagar-based 15th corps said that journalists should not come wearing pherans during the briefing. 

Local journalists on Friday protested the army’s guideline saying a pheran, which is a tweed over garment worn by Kashmiris during the winter months, is a traditional Kashmiri dress. 

Omar Abdullah tweeted Saturday: “If the army has in fact told journalists not to wear a pheran to Corps headquarters events that is unacceptable and the order should be withdrawn. People wear their pheran with pride. It’s part of our identity aside from the best way to stay warm in the cold. Can’t ban pherans.”

The army’s PRO has withdrawn the guideline, saying it had been inadvertent.

Army apologises 

General Officer Commanding of the Army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General Gurmit Singh on Saturday admitted the dress code gaffe and apologised to the scribes.

“I would like to personally say sorry for the pheran thing. It was inadvertent but nevertheless a mistake,” Lt Gen Singh told reporters.

Singh said while no words were enough to undo the hurt, the army will never trample the emotions of the local people.

“No words can undo the mistake. But we will never trample the emotions of the people,” he added.

Public Relations Officer of the Defence Ministry here Lt Colonel N N Joshi in an e-mail invitation to local mediapersons on Friday, said, “You are all aware of the security requirements. However, it is reiterated that you may refrain from wearing pheran.”

In response, the journalists asked the PRO to withdraw the advisory or they would not cover the event.

“You have also asked the journalists, intending to cover the press conference, to refrain from wearing pheran as a security requirement. We fail to understand how can the traditional dress of the people of Kashmir which has also been an integral part of their unique identity pose a security threat to anyone!” the e-mail signed by more than a dozen scribes said.

Later, the defence spokesman said, “The previous press invite may please be treated as cancelled. There is no bar on dress code and it is as per your convenience.” 

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