Faheem Usmani Qasmi
Teacher in Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre, Mumbai Sub. Editor in Eastern Crescent, Mumbai Faheemusmani9@gmail.com
Just after the nullification of Article 370 and 35A by the central government, people particularly BJP workers started to purchase plots and flats on social media in Jammu and Kashmir. Over-excited ones with the party’s success to materialize its old manifesto point are also dreaming to bring fair-skinned girls from the newly declared territory as their life partners. The most recent in this list of misogynistic offenders is the BJP-led Haryana Government’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Kahttar who also made controversial statement by saying, “Our minister OP Dhankhar used to say that he will bring a ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law) from Bihar. Nowadays people are saying that the path to Kashmir has been cleared, so now we will bring girls form Kashmir.” He made this remark while speaking at a state-level function in Fatehabad and was commenting on the success of the Center’s flagship Beti Bachao Beti Padhao program. This statement of Khattar gave rise to controversy all over the country and marked as an abuse over the Prime Minister’s campaign ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’. The comments led political leaders, despite belonging to different political ideologies, to jump into the fray by condemning Khattar’s remark. Also a video clip gone viral in which a BJP MLA from Khatauli assembly constituency can be seen saying at a rally, “The workers are very excited and those who are bachelors, they can get married there (in Kashmir). There is no issue now. Earlier there was lot of atrocities on women. If women from Kashmir get married to a man from Uttar Pradesh her citizenship would be revoked.” “There was different citizenship for India and Kashmir. Get married there to a fair Kashmiri girl. There should be celebrations; everyone should celebrate, be it Hindu or Muslim”, he further said. Even he did not bother himself to enquire the fact that women hailing from Jammu and Kashmir do not lose their residency and inheritance rights under Article 35-A of the Constitution if they get married to an outsider. Some month back in January 2019 an article was published in ‘Business Standard’ addressing the same matter. According to the article Kashmiri women do not lose their residency as it goes, “This issue was settled by a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the case titled State and others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and others in October 2002 by striking down the proviso of the state subject (permanent residency) law according to which women marrying outsiders would lose their permanent resident status,” former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir government Ishaq Qadri told PTI.” “The bench, in the landmark judgment on 7 October 2002, held by a majority view that the daughter of a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose her status as a permanent resident upon her marriage to a person from outside the state”, the article reads. A part from this a number of Tik Tok videos, tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook and massages on whatsapp, bragging about how the people will marry Kasmiri girls, have emerged. The abrogation of Article has simply offered some Indians bizarre sense of entitlement as for some the law basically means that they have the ‘right’ to do anything and everything that is Kashmiri including women. If we go by the Google Trends men in Kerala have topped the list for searching ‘Kashmiri girls’ and Jharkhand is at number two followed by Himachal Pradesh. On August 6 just a day after the revoking the Article, search number for ‘marry Kashmiri girl’ and ‘Kashmiri girls’ spiked. Already the government is in desperate need to win the faith of Kashmiri people, has to go close the common man and tell them the reason and benefits of its bold stand taking them in confidence. But such irresponsible comments will bring a lot of disharmonies, put the population of Kashmir in trauma and fuel them with a sense of insecurity. Why their imaginations end at women and their complexion and looks? As an individual citizen of this country I am not against the marriage of Kashmiri girls in other states as it their constitutional right to choice but the way in which some are displaying their wish is not in the right test. Again it is wondering that who told these people that women in Kashmir were banned from marrying non-Kashmiri men before the removal of 370. In his speech on Article 370, Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that the clause was ‘anti-women’ and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized on how the law would improve the status of Kashmiri women and empower them. But as a matter of fact nothing quite seems to going as planned. PM’s bid that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A which is supposed to bring ‘new era of development’ in J&K is likely to be drowned out by male chauvinist statements regarding Kashmiri women from his own party colleagues. It looks that the women from Kashmir are being regarded as a commodity to own as some Indians are making no difference between the land and ladies of Kashmir. At a time when the BJP leaders are busy making cheap and shameful remark about “fair Kashmiri girls” in the wake of abrogation of Article 370, an Akal Takt Jathedar has urged the Sikh community to protect the honour of Kashmiri girls as their religious duty. Akal Takht is the highest temporal seat of the Sikh. Kashmiri women are part of our society. Desisting from naming any person or community, Jathedar Giani Harpreet Sing said in a statement, “God has given equal rights to all human beings and it is a crime to differentiate against anyone on the basis of gender, caste or religion. The kind of commands given by elected representatives on social media against the girls of Kashmir after the removal of special status under Section 370 is not only defamatory but also unforgivable. At the same time, these people have forgotten that a woman is also a mother, daughter, sister and a wife. It is women who have the power of creation.” “So it is our religious duty to defend their honour. Many more should come forward and stand for the dignity of Kashmiri women at this moment because the BJP leaders have misunderstood the Beti Bachao slogan”, Jathedar said.