September 2001 News

Is Jabbar a front for Lashkar?

3 September 2001
The Hindustan Times
Udayan Namboodiri

New Delhi: What is the Lashkar e Jabbar? Does it really exist? Reports of this unknown militant outfit threatening Muslim women to wear burqas have caught the government''s intelligence wing by surprise.A section of intelligence officials believes it is a front of the Lashkar-e- Tayyeba (LeT). Another point of view is that it is a new hardcore Islamic outfit comprising Taliban elements who have broken free of Punjabi domination in the LeT, Jaish e Mohammed and other groups. However, till such time as some militants attached to this outfit are caught and interrogated, neither of the two theories can gain credibility. Previous attempts to force Kashmiri women into accepting the burqa had failed. In 1990, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and the Harkat-ul-Ansar (now known as Harkat ul Mujahideen) had issued similar strictures. But there was widespread resentment as Kashmiri society prides the independence its women enjoy. It, however, succeeded somewhat in forcing segregation of the sexes in cinema theatres for sometime. No militant group would like to be publicly associated with such moves for fear of antagonising Kashmiris. That is why the LeT had distanced itself from an attempt last September to enforce burqas and to down shutters of beauty saloons in the Valley. Another organisation Dukhtaran-e-Millat has advocating compulsory burqa. The LeJ yesterday announced it was extending the deadline for burqa use on the DeM''s request. Intelligence sources said LeT might have floated the LeJ to spread confusion in the Valley. This LeT''s ideological moorings uphold a great degree of segregation of the sexes. But it is scared of a backlash because burqas would never be accepted willingly by the Kashmiris. So, it officially joins the moderate Hurriyat leaders and the Hizbul Mujahideen in condemning the LeJ, but backs it covertly.


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