Congress opposes Kashmir bill curtailing women’s rights

March 14th, 2010 - 12:12 am ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Jammu, March 13 (IANS) The Congress has decided to oppose a bill moved earlier this week in the upper house of the state legislature depriving women of their citizenship rights if they marry non-permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
“This piece of legislation will never be supported by the party within or outside of the legislature,” said a senior Congress minister in the coalition government of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

The Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill moved March 8 by Murtaza Khan of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Congress minister, who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the subject, said: “It (the bill) is discriminatory and cannot be accepted in any form. Our president Sonia Gandhi is for empowerment of women and we are her foot soldiers in the state and will not allow anything that hurts our party or its vision.”

The stand is similar to the one the party had taken in 2004, when the bill was first introduced to overturn a judgement of the state High Court, which ruled that the women of Jammu and Kashmir had the same citizenship rights as men even if they married a non-permanent resident of the state.

Congress legislature party leader Mohammad Aslam told the legislative assembly Saturday that the party would not allow the passage of the bill.

In Jammu and Kashmir only permanent residents enjoy rights ranging from citizenship, to voting in the assembly, panchayat and municipal elections, to getting government jobs, to acquiring immovable property in the state.

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