August 2004 News

'Anti-women' Bill Stalls J&K Houses

19 August 2004
The Asian Age

Srinagar: Both Houses of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature, now in its Summer Session here, were adjourned for three days following uproarious scenes over the controversial Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill on Thursday. The bill that restricts the right of a woman to acquire immovable property in the home state on marrying a non-state- subject, which was earlier unanimously passed by the Assembly, was lapsed in the Upper House as it could not be put to vote during its last session in March this year. The State Subject Law is in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1927 when it was enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh. The Opposition National Conference accuses the ruling People's Democratic Party of deliberately allowing it at the behest of the Centre and coalition partner, the Congress, which after having voted for it in the Assembly made a volte face and started opposing the legislation in the Upper House, apparently apprehending an adverse fallout in the Lok Sabha elections. The NC members stalled the proceedings of both of the Houses on Thursday and repeated its charge that the ruling party has defeated the move 'at Delhi's behest' and to 'appease the communal and anti-Kashmiri elements.' The other slogan they raised was, 'Jis Kashmir ko khoon se seencha, woh Kashmir hamara hai (The Kashmir we have nourished with blood is ours).' One of the agitating members Mubarak Gul claimed he and his colleagues were sure of the move having been sabotaged at the behest of 'people in New Delhi' and to 'appease the reactionary forces in India.' 'Those who don't want to pass the bill will be helping the forces hell bent on diluting the special status of Kashmir within India,' NC leader in the Assembly Abdur Rahim Rather added. When Speaker Tara Chand's repeated pleas to the Opposition members to resume their seats went unheeded, he adjourned the House till August 23. A similar situation arose in the Upper House where again Chairman Abdur Rashid Dar, who survived a no- confidence-motion moved by the NC on the issue on Wednesday, adjourned the House till Monday. NC members staged protests outside the Legislature as well and accused the government of kidnapping one of its legislators on Wednesday to defeat the motion against Mr Dar. Finance and parliamentary affairs minister Muzaffar Hussein Baig later explained that no business was scheduled for August 21 and 22. He said that the PDP would reintroduce the bill in the Assembly during its current session. NC president Omar Abdullah has said that the party would bring in the bill in its original form in the Assembly as a private member's bill if the government failed to reintroduce it in this session. On the other hand, the Congress has issued a whip to its members to oppose the bill. Chief whip of party Prem Sagar Aziz asked party legislators 'not to support or speak in favour of any such bill denying property rights to women marrying outsiders, if introduced by any Opposition party in the House.' He has also asked MLAs to be present in the Assembly at least five minutes before the start of Question Hour.


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