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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Kashmir women face acid attacks
Women walking in Srinagar
The attacks took place in the capital, Srinagar
By Altaf Hussain in Srinagar

There is growing fear among women in Indian-administered Kashmir after a number of acid attacks in the capital, Srinagar.

Police say unidentified persons threw a bottle of diluted acid into a passenger bus in Srinagar on Tuesday.

Three women and a man received burn injuries.

On Monday, two girls, aged about 15, were attacked with acid in the Maharajgung area of the city.

Police say they are investigating both incidents, but have yet to reach any firm conclusion regarding the motive.

Islamic dress

However, a local newspaper reported that a group called Lashkar-e-Jabbar had claimed responsibility, saying such attacks are a part of its campaign to enforce an Islamic dress code among women.

Veiled women
Most women don't wear the full veil
Various newspapers have noted that Islamic militant groups - who are fighting Indian rule - have been silent over the incidents.

A leading Urdu daily, Al-Safa News, said in a front-page report on Friday that ordinary people were worried and wanted the militant groups to make their stand known.

The head of the Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir religious party, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, has expressed his deep anguish over the acid-throwing.

The Jamaat-e-Islami is part of the main Kashmiri separatist alliance - the All-Party Hurriyat Conference.

He told the BBC that Islam does not approve of any coercion in matters of religion.

He says society can be reformed only through persuasion.

Any reform brought about by force is not only short-lived but counter-productive as well, he says.

The majority of Muslim women in Kashmir are not fully veiled, although there have been attempts in the past by some groups to persuade women to observe a stricter Islamic dress code.

See also:

08 Sep 00 | South Asia
Kashmir beauty salon shooting
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