SRINAGAR, India — An Islamist group in Indian Kashmir on Thursday warned tourists not to wear miniskirts or other revealing clothes in the disputed region, which is enjoying a sharp revival in visitor numbers.
Holiday-makers have poured back into Indian-administered Kashmir over the last two years after a downturn in the separatist violence that had wrecked the tourism industry in the Muslim-majority region.
Kashmir is famed for its houseboats, serene lakes and soaring mountains, but it has also been the scene of decades of conflict as rebels fought to break away from Indian government rule.
"Some tourists, mostly foreigners, are in short miniskirts and other objectionable dresses, which is against the local ethos and culture and is not acceptable to civil society," Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman Zahid Ali told AFP.
"Guests are supposed to respect the sentiments of the host," he said. "For simple monetary benefits, no nation can compromise on its morality and customs and endanger future generations."
Jamaat-e-Islami, which recently left the main Kashmiri separatist alliance, has called on the state tourism board to back its stance, adding that visitors should be informed to avoid any "angry reaction" from local extremists.
"We ask the authorities not to encourage cultural aggression against Kashmiri Muslims and remain vigilant against elements who promote vulgarity and other immoral activities," Ali said.
Kashmiri women, who often do not wear full veils, have in the past been targeted by having acid thrown in their faces in a campaign to enforce Islamic dress codes.
The radical Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Faith) group attempted to impose a strict version of Islamic dress in the early 1990s soon after the militant insurgency first erupted.
Many cinemas, liquor shops and beauty parlours were also forced to close and have since remained shut.
State authorities were reluctant to respond to Jamaat-e-Islami's warning to tourists, who have brought welcome business to Srinagar with houseboats and hotels booked up throughout the summer.
"It is a very sensitive issue and I am not in a position to comment on it," director of the tourism department Talat Pervaiz told AFP.
At least 110 youths died in clashes with security forces in 2010, when Srinagar was often under constant curfew.
About 1.3 million tourists, most of them Indians escaping the heat further south, visited Kashmir in 2011 and numbers have been at similar levels this year.
"It is surprising and wrongly timed. We have started a great season and want it to pass quietly," Abdul Rashid, a taxi driver, said.
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