A young Muslim girl in the Indian state of Kerala has been receiving death threats for not wearing the burqa, and instead often opting for jeans. She is an aeronautical engineer by qualification striving to get into the country's civil services.
For Rayana R Khasi, a resident of Kasargode, 600 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, her problems began after she returned from Chennai city last year after completing her engineering studies and coaching classes for the civil services exam.
Initially there were polite pleas from her relatives to don the traditional Muslim attire. "Then my neighbours started advising me and since then there have had anonymous callers on my mobile telling me they will have no choice but to kill me because I continue to defy the burqa," Rayana told the Indo Asian News Service (IANS).
Matters took a turn for the worse last month when she began receiving threatening letters which said she would be killed before August 26. Rayana received police protection after she approached the Kerala High Court. The harassment, however, did not stop. Since then she has received further threats and the new deadline to "go back to burqa and apologise to society if she wanted to live" is September 18, according to the Deccan Herald.
"My father is a businessman and when he is short of money, it is my mother who comes to his help by giving her gold ornaments. And that is when she resorts to wearing the burqa so that no one can see that she doesn't have her jewellery. My sisters also support me because they know I have not done any wrong," said Rayana.
According to NDTV news channel, the police have now arrested four persons who threatened her. One of the suspects is believed to be a member of Popular Front of India (PFI), the radical Islamist group that was involved in chopping off the palm of a Christian lecturer recently for allegedly insulting prophet Mohammed.
Kerala is one of India's most literate states, and has a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians.