SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Bank has banned entry of people wearing pheran, a symbol of Kashmiri culture, into its corporate headquarters here.
Besides its employees, clients of the bank too have to take off the pheran and deposit it at the gates where they also undergo a security check.
On Wednesday, the controversial practice, which was not in vogue even at the peak of armed militancy in Kashmir in the ‘90s, was seen as a disrespect and humiliation by a businessman Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Khan of Kawoosa, Magam, in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Khan refused to oblige when asked by the security officials at the bank’s corporate headquarters to take his pheran off and deposit it before stepping into the premises. Khan refused, and registered his protest by returning without finishing his business at the bank.
“I had some work at the corporate headquarters, but I preferred not to enter the bank after I was asked to take off the pheran. Pheran is part of our culture, which the J&K Bank claims to promote and safeguard, and yet they don’t allow us to wear it at their headquarters,” Khan told Kashmir Reader on Thursday.
“When I reached the bank,” Khan said, “many elderly persons had taken off their pherans already to be able to enter the premises. But I simply refused to obey these orders from the bank’s babus which smack of their inferiority complex.”
Insiders in the bank said the practice was adopted only recently following an incident at the bank’s headquarters. “There was an incident of theft at the headquarters and the culprit was found wearing a pheran. Subsequently, a circular was issued that no one shall be allowed to enter the headquarters wearing a pheran,” they said.
Pheran is the most common attire of Kashmiris. J&K’s British-born Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, is often seen in pheran during harsh winters in the Valley. And of late, pheran has attracted tourists as well who wear it with pride during their stay in the Valley. This traditional gown serving as an effective shield against winters is nowadays spotted outside the state as well.
The bank’s president Rouf Bhat feigned ignorance about the banning on pheran, saying the practice may have been ordered by the security wing.
“I don’t know anything about it, but the security section of the bank may have started this practice due to security reasons,” Bhat told Kashmir Reader.