Women in Kashmir threatened with acid attacks
A militant group in Kashmir have threatened women with acid attacks if they do not cover up their heads and faces and when they use a mobile phone.
The warnings were issued in hand-written notices that were found stuck to mosques in the Shopian district, The Daily Bhaskar has reported.
The notes claimed they were issued by two previously unknown groups; al-Qaeda Mujahideen and Lashkar e al-Queda.
They read: “We appeal to the public that they ensure that their women observe purdah [covering their heads and faces] in public places.
“If we spot any woman without purdah we will sprinkle acid on her face. If we spot any girl using mobile phone, she will be shot dead.”
Women in the Kashmir area suffered a spate of attacks in 2001. Another militant group, Lashkar-e-Jabbar, claimed responsibility in a bid to enforce more conservative dress in the state, where the majority of women choose not to wear a veil.
Acid attacks are widespread across the border in Pakistan and many fear that the warnings are a sign that the practice could become more prevalent in Kashmir.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Kashmiri commentator Professor Noor Ahmad Baba said that women in the region generally have more freedom than those in other areas and previous campaigns to try to force women to cover up have been unsuccessful.
Police in the state also told The Telegraph that the threats may be part of an attempt by militants to radicalise the state following a reduction in the infiltration of militant activity from Pakistan into Kashmir.
Inpector General of Police, S M Sahai, said: “The militants are trying to recruit locals as the infiltration has been brought to a minimum. We have cases of militants trying to engage boys of 12.”