Valley women take to saffron, rally for BJP
19 February 2002
The Indian Express
Jammu: A DECADE ago when Kouser Naseem, a women from the Valley, decided to join BJP it raised many a brow in Kashmir. They could not believe how a Muslim woman could support a ‘‘saffron’’ party — who they thought was anti-Islamic. This did not deter Naseem. Today, many other women from the Valley want to follow in her footsteps and under the banner of Dukhtaran-e-Hind (DeH), they are asking people to vote the BJP into power. ‘‘Earlier, we too thought that they (the BJP) were anti- Muslim. But we have realised our folly. It was these people who helped us, not those who call themselves the champions of Muslim cause,’’ said DeH general secretary Shamima Khalik. The organisation was formed two years back to counter the separatist and fundamentalist ideology of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, a party led by Asiya Andrabi. Now it has a membership of over 500 members. The DeH women are supporting BJP candidate Dr Nirmal Singh for the forthcoming Jammu by-polls. ‘‘Our voice remained suppressed for years. Now we want to support someone who has helped us during crucial times,’’ said another member Ameen. In 1991, Naseem was forced to leave her home in the Valley after militants abducted her husband and buried her six-month-baby alive. ‘‘Though I took him out, it was too late, his eye-sight had been affected,’’ said Naseem. ‘‘I was alone then. Today, many Shamimas are with me and this group will only get bigger in the coming days,’’ she added.