Militants recall acid threat, but to act against unveiled women
20 August 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Faced with sharp criticism from within Kashmir’s separatist fraternity, even with threats of violent reprisal, the Lashkar-e- Jabbar has apparently decided to give up its agenda to force women to wear the purdah. There will therefore be no further acid-throwing against women who defy the not-so common outfit. However, the Lashkar- e-Jabbar or the army of the omnipotent Almighty will switch to other means to enforce its diktat. “We’ve worked out a new strategy to carry on with our campaign for purdah,” said a statement issued by here on Sunday. It serves a two-week notice on Kashmiri women to comply with the order or face the consequences. After the deadline of September 1 set by the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, “action will be taken against any woman found out of her house without wearing a veil,” the statement issued at the end of the outfit’s “high-level” meeting said. The meeting held with its Amir-e-Aala (chief) in the chair discussed in detail the menace of social indiscipline, ethical degradation and corruption, nudity and debauchery and felt satisfied over the “success” of the purdah campaign. The Hizbul-Mujahedeen went a step ahead asking the people “to capture and punish” as per their own will anybody found harassing womenfolk. The Hizb also ruled that the Lashkar-e-Jabbar was not a known or recognised militant outfit and, therefore the acid throwing incidents could be a ploy. “Sprinkling acid at or subjecting innocent women and girls to harassment could be a deep-rooted conspiracy against the people of Kashmir and their just struggle for freedom and Islamic salvation,” was the decree issued by chief priest and founder chairperson of the Hurriyat Conference, Moulvi Omar Farooq. The ordinary Kashmiri is puzzled over the way the Lashkar-e-Jabbar has been working. He is equally ignorant about who is actually behind the hitherto unknown outfit. While officials here believe the outfit could be a front for an existing fundamentalist group, the Hizb is reportedly in the lookout of those who they say have “brought disgrace to our movement.” Meanwhile, not many women are adhering to the purdah after the initial widespread response. The change in the mood of Kashmiri women could be noticed after premier militant outfits disowned the Lashkar-e-Jabbar and distanced themselves from its campaign. But still many people here do believe some pressure is needed in order to stop “social evils” such as obscenity at public places. For them “things were going too far.” Realising the folly of their coercive actions, and its fallout, particularly after the Hizb “authorised” the people to take action against those involved the Lashkar-e-Jabbar has sought refuge in “other means” and “changing strategy” to enforce the purdah dictate. Whether it would succeed or not, only time will tell.