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Volume 1, No. 9 - February 2002

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Dukhtaraan-e-Millat (DeM)

An all-woman outfit, the Dukhtaraan-e-Millat (DeM) can be categorized as a soft-terrorist outfit in the sense that it uses extra-legal means including threats to impose its doctrines but has not taken to arms so far. The outfit, formed in 1987 has claimed that the Kashmir issue is primarily a religious issue and jehad is mandatory. It also supports the accession of the Kashmir valley with Pakistan. The DeM primarily operates in the Kashmir valley and its present strength is reported to be approximately 350.

The outfit has grabbed attention in spurts due to controversial remarks made by its leader, Ayesha Andrabi, particularly in the context of developments since year 2000. Of late, Ayesha Andrabi has been very vocal in supporting a new outfit named Lashkar-e-Jabbar (LJ). This outfit has come into the news after its activists reportedly threw acid on two women in Srinagar on August 7 on the grounds that they were not dressed in 'Islamic' style. The Lashkar-e-Jabbar had first announced, that it would begin to use violence against Kashmir Muslims who were not dressed in their version of 'Islamic Dress Codes'. While supporting this, Ayesha Andrabi issued a press statement asking for an extension of this deadline to September 10, a request that was promptly acceeded. Later, in an interview published on September 9, she said that the current campaign was the "beginning of a comprehensive social reform movement based on true Islamic thought" and also asked women in Kashmir to stay away from government jobs. These reactions has led to speculation that the Lashkar-e-Jabbar could be a front for the DeM to renew its campaign directed at implementing its version of 'Islamic' social values.

The Dukhtaraan-e-Millat had also opposed recent peace intiatives in the State. It had rejected the cease-fire declared by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and criticised persons and organisations that accorded a positive response to the cease-fire, going to the extent of calling upon foreign mercenary outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba to take action against senior leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Abdul Ghani Lone for his reported remarks against Islamic fundamentalist outfits.

Ayesha Andrabi, described as a conservative Muslim and radical feminist, leads this orthodox outfit. The outfit has sought to work in tandem with the insurgency which broke out in 1989. During the 1990's, the outfit was active in organising protests against Kashmiri women who did not adhere to the burqa (veil) system. In May 1993, the DeM issued warnings to the women in Srinagar not to venture outside their houses without wearing the veil. It also organises protests against the alleged display of objectionable literature in Jammu and Kashmir. Another issue that the outfit periodically raises is alleged excess of security forces conducting counter-insurgency operations in the State. It has regularly co-operated with the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in organising protest demonstrations on this issue. In June 2000, the DeM called for a strike against alleged custodial killings by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Security forces are yet to report any instances of terrorist strikes conducted by the DeM though they suspect that activists of the outfit act as couriers of arms and funds for various terrorist outfits operating in the State. The U.S State Department Report of 1995, held a Dukhtaran-e-Millat activist responsible for a parcel bomb blast at the BBC office in Srinagar in which one person was killed and another two injured.

Courtesy: South Asia Terrorism Portal

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