Spate of Thefts Prompts Burqa Ban in Some Indian Jewelry Shops

December 28, 2006

Source: The China Post

Wire Service: AP

Pune, India: Muslim women wearing the head-to-toe Islamic robe, or burqa, could be banned from shopping at jewelry stores in this western Indian city after a series of thefts carried out by burqa-clad robbers, jewelers said Thursday.

The Pune Jewelers Association has applied to police for permission to bar people who cover their faces from their stores, said association president Fattechand Ranka.

Ranka said the move comes after closed circuit cameras in stores showed that three recent thefts, each of jewelry valued at more than US$8,500 (L6,500), were carried out by customers wearing burqas.

"Because of the burqa the police could not identify their faces," he said.

Ranka said his move was not aimed at Muslims, who are a minority in Pune in Maharashtra state, but would target anyone who refused to show their faces to the security cameras. Many Hindu women in India also wear veils.

"Anyone could be masquerading under a burqa, even a man," he said.