Sunday, March 8, 2009

Female paramilitaries vs female vigilantes

From Times Online:
"All-female paramilitary police units are to be deployed in Kashmir during the Indian general elections next month to prevent female Islamist vigilantes from intimidating women voters who refuse to wear the veil.

The move aims to counter the Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM), an all-woman Muslim group that is opposed to Indian rule – and to women wearing Western-style clothes – in the disputed Himalayan state.

The DeM (the name means “Daughters of the Nation”) is expected to call for a boycott of the elections.

Its followers have thrown green dye at women who refused to wear the burka or a veil. Last month it carried out raids on restaurants on Valentine's Day to ferret out and castigate unmarried couples.

Its leader, Aasiya Andrabi, was a prominent supporter of the Lashkar-e-Jabbar terrorist faction, whose activists threw acid on two women in Western dress in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, in 2000.

She has been linked to Pakistan's powerful spy agency, which India claims cultivated scores of militant groups to fight as proxy forces in Kashmir.

“Valentine's Day is against our culture and the teachings of Islam. Thanks to Allah, no one sold Valentine's Day cards in Srinagar this year,” Andrabi recently told reporters after her followers swooped on gift shops across the state.

Omar Abdullah, the recently elected Kashmir Chief Minister, told The Times: “Andrabi has followers in the urban centres. If something develops we will make sure we are in a position to take it in our stride.”

The two all-female companies, about 240 women in all, will patrol polling stations armed with Kalashnikovs.

The authorities believe that they will be better placed to search voters dressed in the all-enveloping burka. They have been based in Kashmir since 2005 but have never turned out for general election duty. "

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