Schoolgirls in Mardan forced to wear burqa
PESHAWAR, May 5: Students of a girls’ school in Mardan have started wearing burqa after their school received threatening letters from some militants. The letters sent to the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Par Hoti, Mardan, asked the administration to advise schoolgirls to veil themselves in accordance with the Islamic code.
“The frightened students have started wearing burqa. It is a new thing for the students who are not used to it. The principal has issued a verbal order (for wearing burqa) in this regard,” said a class-VII student of the school.
The administration had two months ago shut down the school for a brief period as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident. A letter sent by some unknown zealots had warned that girl students must be veiled otherwise the school would be destroyed.
“After the threat, the administration had started persuading students into wearing veils. Students had complied with the order because parents did not want to invite wrath for their children,” said Jamil Khan, whose two daughters are studying in the school.
Of the 1,000 students, about 700 have started wearing burqa over the last two months. Insiders said the school administration was providing free burqas to those students who cannot afford to buy for themselves. However, they said, students of class-I and II had been allowed not wear burqa.
A student of class-VIII said: “I feel uncomfortable in burqa because of hot summer season. The school administration fines Rs20 for not complying with the order,” she said.
Girls’ schools in upscale Peshawar have also received anonymous threats of suicide bombing. Several schools have been closed before the summer vacation after their administration received threatening letters.
District Nazim Himayatullah Mayar denied that students were wearing burqa after threatening letters. He said that students belonging to nearby villages traditionally wore burqa.
“We have taken the matter very seriously. WE have investigated the matter thoroughly. Police and intelligence officials despite relentless efforts have not been able to trace those who had allegedly sent the letters,” he said, adding that Mardan was a secular city and there were no signs of Talibanisation.
He said he had issued directives to principals and headmasters of all schools to take extra security measures to ensure safety of their students.