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Singing of national anthem `forbidden'

By Luv Puri

Jammu June 11. After issuing diktats on a "dress code" and imposing a number of socio-economic curbs on women, militants have now "banned" the singing of the national anthem in educational institutions.

Fearing ``punishment'' from militants, Government and private institutions in some remote militancy-affected areas of the State, particularly Jammu region, have stopped singing the anthem.

Educational institutions in the remote areas have often been a target of militants. Several teachers have been killed over the years. Lately, militants through posters and directly, have asked government and private schools in Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and some parts of Udhampur districts to dispense with the use of the national anthem.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba had given the "ban order" in Poonch district, while in Doda, the Hizb-ul Mujahideen had forbidden the same sometime back. In the interior areas of Rajouri district such as Dharhal, where the `burqa' controversy started, a ban was imposed on the singing by the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Educational institutions in the upper areas of Udhampur such as Mahore, Gool and Arnas were also afraid to sing the national anthem after the morning prayers, due to the militant threats.

The only schools still singing the anthem every morning are those belonging to the Army and paramilitary forces in Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and Udhampur districts.

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