SRINAGAR: General Officer Commanding of the Army’s 15 Corps Lt Gen Gurmit Singh Sunday 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.
Lt Gen Singh said while no words were enough to undo the hurt, 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.
On Friday, several leading journalists of Kashmir took exception to an army official asking them not to wear ‘Pheran’ – traditional Kashmiri dress – to the press conference addressed by the Corps Commander Sunday.
Public Relations Officer of the Indian Army here Lt Colonel N N Joshi in an e-mail invitation to local media persons 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 army spokesman withdrew the earlier invitation. “The press invitation issued earlier was erroneously sent due to clerical error and same is regretted. The previous press invite may please be treated as cancelled. There is no bar on dress code and it is as per your convenience,” he said.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also said that army should withdraw the ‘advisory’ issued to journalists regarding wearing of ‘pheran’.
“If the army has in fact told journalists not to wear pheran to Corps HQ events that is unacceptable and the order should be withdrawn,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.com.
Omar said ‘pheran’ cannot be banned as it is part of the Kashmiri identity and people wear it with pride.