M A I N   N E W S

Second thoughts on J&K daughters’ Bill
Public outcry forces Congress to backtrack
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 8
Second thoughts have developed on the controversial Kashmir Bill which sought to deny property rights to girls marrying outsiders.

Concerned at widespread public outcry and the impact it can have on the coming elections, the Congress High Command has told the Mufti government to refer the Bill to a select committee of the state Legislature.

The Mufti government is yet to take a decision on the Congress move, but has promised to remove the gender bias.

It is possible the select committee move may be made in the state Legislative Council when it meets in Jammu on Thursday.

The U-turn in the attitude of the Congress has come following the displeasure that Mrs Sonia Gandhi is learnt to have expressed on the issue to Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed and Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma on the telephone yesterday.

However, in a bid to scuttle the attempt of the ruling coalition, the opposition National Conference this afternoon issued a whip to all its 15 members in the 30-member Legislative Council to attend the session on Thursday.

As any motion on the Bill in the council would be a property of the House, the coalition would not be in a position to take any decision on its own because of the present composition of the House. The National Conference has 15 members, including the Chairman, the Congress has eight members, the PDP has a strength of five, while one member each belongs to the Panthers’ Party and the CPM.

The passing of the Bill by the Assembly has created serious problems for the Congress at the national level as this has given a handle against it to the BJP and other Opposition parties at the time of the Lok Sabha elections.

Although the Mufti and his PDP were silent on the controversy generated by passing of the Bill, Mr.Sharma came out with a two-page statement today, saying, “We have been advised by AICC President Sonia Gandhi that in view of the importance of the legislation, it will be more appropriate to have a thorough debate on the issue. It can be done by referring the Bill to a select committee of the Upper House that will meet on March 11 to discuss the Bill. We are accordingly agreeable to this suggestion to put to rest any apprehensions and misunderstandings about the legislation.”

In a chain of events against the Bill, women activists of the BJP, trying to march towards the Secretariat here this morning, were cane-charged by the police.

A BJP spokesman alleged that the women activists, who were observing International Women’s Day as a black day, were beaten up, and two of them were hospitalised. About 70 women were arrested. Among them were Mrs Rekha Gupta, wife of Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Minister of State for Defence, the BJP women’s wing chief, Ms Surekha Chaudhary, and Mrs Mamta Singh, wife of Dr Nirmal Singh, state BJP chief.

On the other hand, Mr Bhim Singh, Chairman of the Panthers’ Party that is supporting the Mufti government, today threatened to pull out of the coalition in case the “draconian and anti-woman” Bill was not withdrawn on March 11.

Mr Bhim Singh said he would generate a countrywide movement against the government and also take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The Panthers’ Party made a beginning in taking to streets against the bill today by staging a dharna outside Raj Bhavan. The women’s wing of the party had yesterday burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed outside Raj Bhavan.

In a statement, Dr Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister and patron of the National Conference, today said the NC had always stood for preservation and protection of Article 370 and shall in future also not allow anyone to dilute it.

While renewing the party’s resolve to uphold the state subject law and infact further strengthen it, Dr Abdullah said the NC would not deter from its stand in the just-concluded session of the Assembly and its stand would get further vindicated by the debate in the Legislative Council on March 11. Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, described the Bill as more dreaded than the dress code and other diktats issued by fundamentalists and terrorists. In an appeal to the fair sex on Women’s Day, Mr Gupta alleged that under the cover of a special status of the state, the Bill introduced by the Congress-PDP-Panthers’ Party coalition and their supporters was a crude attempt to bypass the verdict of the High Court and discriminate against the daughters of J&K ignoring the basic principle of equality provided in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, in a reaction to the Bill, Mr Onkar Seth, spokesman of the Jammu State Morcha (JSM), accused the Congress of playing second fiddle to those leaders of Kashmir who were directly and indirectly supporting terrorists and anti-national elements.


Jammu and Kashmir Governor to study implications of Bill on daughters
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 8
The Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Lieut-Gen S.K. Sinha (retd), has said that all implications of the Bill for withdrawing state subject rights for girls marrying outside the state would be studied before giving an assent to it. “I will study all its implications”, said the Governor while talking to mediapersons at Uri in North Kashmir today.

Replying to questions, the Governor said it was too early to comment on the Bill, which has already invited attention from different political parties within and outside the state.

During his visit to Uri, the Governor had detailed meeting with Army officers and the senior civil and police officers of North Kashmir. Earlier, he also attended a function organised by the Uri-based Kala Pahar Brigade to felicitate a number of Hajis, who had recently returned after performing the annual Hajj function.

Meanwhile, the National Conference has expressed its concern over the “hue and cry” created by the PDP over the Bill recently passed by the state assembly for withdrawing state subject rights in favour of those girls marrying to persons outside the state. In a statement, a spokesman of the National Conference condemned the role of the PDP President, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, over the issue, adding that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had exploited his position to sabotage the special status granted to the state. The spokesman alleged that fresh moves were being made only to dilute the impact of his wrong doings. He added that National Conference had always played its role to defend issues like state subject and Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |