Lawyers protest in Jammu against Citizenship Rights Bill
Jammu, Mar 11: Lawyers in Jammu Thursday observed a strike and held a protest over the introduction of a private member’s bill that seeks to annul permanent resident rights of Kashmiri women who marry outside the state.
Lawyers of the Jammu Bar Association boycotted court work and staged a sit-in and also held a demonstration denouncing the Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill. They said the bill was “discriminatory against women of the state, particularly of Jammu region”.
“It is anti-Jammu, as most Jammu girls marry outside of the state with persons who are non-state subjects (not permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir),” Sunil Sethi, Jammu Bar Association president, told newspersons here Thursday afternoon.
The bill had threatened the then ruling coalition of Congress-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it was first introduced in the assembly in 2004.
The National Conference - then in opposition - supported the legislation while the national parties, including the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 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.
It was introduced by PDP legislator Murtaza Khan in the state legislative council March 8, and the government accepted it at the introduction level.
The PDP plans to introduce the bill in the state legislative assembly.
The PDP’s argument in favour of the bill is it would save the identity of the women of the state. It fears that if women marrying non-state subjects are entitled to retain their citizenship rights, the state’s special status would be undermined.
Jammu and Kashmir enjoys special status under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Only residents of the state can acquire immovable property, study in professional institutions and get government jobs.
Sunil Sethi said there appeared to be “a big conspiracy”. “This is evident in the way political parties are maintaining a silence over the issue. We are not hearing any voices of opposition to the bill.”
Congress leaders, when approached, refused to make any comment.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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