Facing attack, militant outfits disown Purdah
12 August 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Amidst growing public resentment against the militant-enforced dress code in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen today joined the Hurriyat Conference in condemning the recent acid attacks on unveiled women in the state. The three militant groups disassociated themselves from the current campaign to enforce purdah in the state and condemned the campaign as an effort to malign the Kashmiris ‘‘ongoing struggle’’. A hitherto unknown outfit, known as the Laskhar-e-Jabbar is stated to be behind the ‘‘campaign’’. Panic gripped the state when militants threw acid on four women in downtown Srinagar on Friday. Earlier too there had been isolated attacks on women who were unveiled. At least three women had been shot in the leg for not following the dress code. LeT spokesman Abu Osama told local news agencies that his organisation has not issued any warning to women to observe the veil. He also disowned the posters attributed to it. Deploring the acid attacks as deplorable, Osama said that those behind the attack were out to malign the Lashkar. ‘‘The Lashkar believes that people should adhere to the principles of Islam, particularly in these times, but we will not insist on men to sport beard or on women to use a veil,’’ a statement issued by the Lashkar said. In a separate statement, the Hizbul Mujahideen said that there was no militant group by the name of the Lashkar-e-Jabbar and that the activities being carried out in their name signified a deep-rooted conspiracy against the ‘‘movement’’. Questioning the authenticity of the Lashkar-e- Jabbar, its spokesman Saleem Hashmi said that the Hizb would unmask those behind the incidents. He asked the people to catch and punish those involved in using coercive measures against women. ‘‘Islam does not believe in coercion nor can religious injunctions be enforced through threats and suppression,’’ he said. He sought the Ulema’s role and proper guidance on the code of conduct. The Jamait-ul- Mujahideen described it as a criminal act. These attacks are highly condemnable, the outfit’s spokesman said, adding those involved were enemies of the ‘‘movement’’. Earlier the attacks were also condemned by the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Front and the Hurriyat Conference. ‘‘Purdah should be a woman’s choice, not her compulsion,’’ Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat said. Senior executive member of the Hurriyat Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq had also reacted sharply to the incidents. Addressing a Friday congregation in the Jamia Masjid on August 10, the Mirwaiz came down heavily on the perpetrators of the act describing their actions as inhuman and barbaric. He said that Islam bestows a great status on women and nothing should be done to detract from that. These acts at this crucial juncture can be a part of conspiracy against the ongoing movement, he said.