Chief of the separatist hardline women’s organization Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) (Daughters of Nation) Syed Aasiya Andrabi has stoked a controversy again by telephonically addressing a Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) rally in Pakistan that was also attended by JuD Chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed on August 14. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), a coalition partner in the J&K state government, has called for a case of treason against Andrabi. Andrabi has been booked by the police for also hoisting the Pakistan flag.
This is not the first time that Andrabi has been in news for her open pro-Pakistan and pro-militant stand. In March this year, she was booked for hoisting Pakistani flag in Srinagar, something she repeated last week on Pakistan’s Independence Day.
Andrabi is the founder and chairperson of Dukhtaran-e-Millat – the women’s hard-line separatist outfit in the Valley — that was originally set-up as an organisation for social reforms.
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Born in 1963, Andrabi completed her graduation in Home Sciences from Government Women’s College in Srinagar. She wanted to move to Darjeeeling for a post graduation but was not permitted to by her parents. It was then that she started to read Islamic literature which “changed” her outlook. She then joined the women’s wing of Jamat-e-Islami, a socio-political party.
In 1985, Aasiya Andrabi separated from Jamat-e-Islmai and formed Dukhtaran-e-Millat as a reformist organisation. For the first time, the party rose to prominence in 1991 when it started a campaign to enforce veil in the Valley.
In 1990, Aasiya Andrabi married Ashiq Hussain Faktoo (popularly known as Mohammad Qasim) – one of the top militant commanders in the Valley who is serving life imprisonment for his “involvement” in the killing of human rights activist H N Wanchoo. In 1993, she was arrested for 13 months along with her husband and infant child. Since then, Andrabi has been in and out of the jail several times. Police have also booked her under the Public Safety Act (PSA) many times.
Dukhtaran has hundreds of members across the Kashmir valley. The outfit is known for its hardline views and is openly calling for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. However, the women’s outfit is not taken seriously by many in Kashmir.