M A I N   N E W S

J&K House adjourned sine die
No voting on daughters’ Bill; NC expels Rashid Dar
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Policewomen try to detain women protestors during a demonstration in Jammu
Policewomen try to detain women protestors during a demonstration in Jammu on Thursday. Dozens of Kashmiri women took to the streets on Thursday to protest a law that rescinds Kashmiri-born women of their permanent residency if they marry men from outside the region. — Reuters photo

Jammu, March 11
Passing of the controversial Bill seeking to deny state subject rights to women marrying outsiders got deferred in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council this evening following a nearly six and a half hours debate as the council Chairman, Mr Abdul Rashid Dar, adjourned the House sine die.

Mr Dar said that the Bill would not lapse due to prorogation of the House and could again be taken up any time when the House met again.

The Opposition National Conference members raised slogans against the government as the Chairman left for his chamber after giving his ruling.

The ruling came following a heated debate and acrimonious scenes during the discussion on the Bill. While the ruling PDP and the Opposition National Conference (NC) members wanted that the Bill should be passed, the Congress, which is a member of the coalition, wanted that it should be referred to a select committee.

In his ruling before adjourning the House, Mr Dar observed that the issue that required an even greater reflection and caution had arisen out of the fact that a legislative measure that was still in the process of being born had been catapulted in to the realm of passion and frenzy of electoral politics.

“We, in this Upper House are supposed to ponder this issue with greater restraint and sober reflection.”

Mr Dar said, “We, therefore, have to consider whether it would be advisable to take a course that minimises the risk of vitiating the political environment in the state or does not confer any undue advantage and inflict undue disadvantage on any of the players in political arena.”

Earlier, during the debate the PDP and the NC members accused each other of trying to gain political mileage out of the bill. Certain NC members alleged that the PDP-led government had brought the legislation with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections. The PDP members accused the NC of vitiating the atmosphere, particularly in the Kashmir valley on the name of the Bill.

However, the Bill moved by the Law Minister, Mr Muzaffar Hussain Beig, was interestingly seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abdul Qayum (NC).

The NC President, Mr Omar Abdullah, along with several party legislators and leaders, was present in the visitors’ gallery throughout the proceedings of the House.

As soon as the House assembled, Mr Tariq Hameed Qarra (PDP) urged that the Bill should be passed with a simple majority. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abdul Qayum (NC), also made the demand.

Mr P. Namgial (Cong) moved an amendment seeking the Bill should be referred to a select committee that should submit its report in the next session.

Mr Amrit Malhotra, Mr Gulchain Singh Charak, Mr Lal Mohammad Sabir (all Cong) and Mr Bhim Singh (Panthers Party) described the Bill as discriminatory towards the women.

Mr Abdul Qayum wondered as to why the opinion of the Congress and the Panthers Party had now changed over the Bill after it was cleared by the Cabinet in which both parties had their ministers.

Not a single voice of dissent was raised against the Bill in the Assembly where it was unanimously passed.

The NC members took exception to the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, announcing during her election rally on March 9 that the Bill had been referred to a select committee. They accused the Mufti-led government of being a puppet.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, clarified that he had clearly noted in the file pertaining to the Bill that was circulated among the ministers that it should be referred to a select committee.

The Congress members pointed out that the Bill had generated communal tension in the town. The interests of the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh should be kept in mind.

Meanwhile, the NC tonight expelled Mr Dar from the party soon after he adjourned the House.

The party also submitted a notice of no-confidence against Mr Dar, but the Secretary of the council refused to receive it.

"We have expelled Mr Dar from the primary membership of the NC tonight. This has been conveyed to him," party chief Omar Abdullah said.

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