Controversial women’s rights bill returns to Kashmir assembly

Jammu, Feb 22 (Calcutta Tube) The controversial bill that seeks to annul permanent resident rights of Kashmiri women who marry outside the state is set to return to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

Described as ‘communal and unconstitutional’, the Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill had threatened the existence of then ruling coalition of Congress-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it was first introduced in 2004.

The National Conference – then in opposition – had supported the legislation while the national parties, including the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had opposed it.

The bill deprives women of the right to own and inherit immovable property, get government jobs and other privileges if they marry non-state subjects.

The bill was one of the biggest controversies during the PDP-Congress rule. Moved by the PDP, it was passed by the lower house of the state assembly, but failed to sail through the upper house when the Congress opposed it after nationwide criticism.

The bill would be brought afresh in the 45-day long budget session of the state assembly by PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Baig.

However, it would be interesting to see what stand the National Conference takes given that its ruling partner Congress would oppose the bill.

‘The bill would be tabled and it would be seen as to what stand the National Conference would take now,’ a PDP leader said.

If passed, those affected would include the younger daughter of former chief minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, and two daughters of union minister Farooq Abdullah, who are married to non-residents.

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