Srinagar , Kashmir, Asharq Al-Awsat – In the latest attack on recreational establishments in the troubled Indian province, Islamic militants attacked on Wednesday the Neelam cinema in the Kashmiri capital.
This follows an earlier call by the head of a female separatist group, Dukhtaran e-Millat (Daughters of the faith), Asia Andrabi to target restaurants, internet cafés, and private residences, in a bid to stamp out what she called “immorality and adultery”.
The groups, al Mansoorian, Harakat al Ansar and the Harakat al Muhajedeen jointly claimed responsibility for the attack.
A man who identified himself as Omar Taliban contacted a local news agency and said the assault would serve as a warning for citizens to refrain from watching films, a practice he described as contrary to the teachings of Islam.
The latest developments represent a major setback for the Indian government, which had planned to progressively reopen cinemas, beauty parlors, and stores that sell alcohol, as a sign peace was returning to the troubled province.
Film theatres and wine shops were closed down throughout the valley in 1989 with the rise in militant activity as they were believed to be against Islam, which extremist groups wanted to promote in the region.
Three cinemas, Broadway, Regal, and Neelam opened their doors to customers two years ago with one hall later shutting down following a blast on the opening night, which killed one and injured twenty.
Islamic militants have in the past imposed bans on cable television throughout Kashmir for showing “obscene and un-Islamic” programs and targeted women running beauty salons or wearing western style attire.