Women in Kashmir Citizens at Last by Pamela Bhagat SignUp
Boloji.com
Boloji
Home Kabir Poetry Blogs BoloKids Writers Contribute Search Contact Site Map Advertise RSS Login Register
Boloji
Channels

In Focus

Analysis
Cartoons
Education
Environment
Going Inner
Opinion
Photo Essays

Columns

A Bystander's Diary
Business
My Word
PlainSpeak
Random Thoughts

Our Heritage

Architecture
Astrology
Ayurveda
Buddhism
Cinema
Culture
Dances
Festivals
Hinduism
History
People
Places
Sikhism
Spirituality
Vastu
Vithika

Society & Lifestyle

Family Matters
Health
Parenting
Perspective
Recipes
Society
Teens
Women

Creative Writings

Book Reviews
Ghalib's Corner
Humor
Individuality
Literary Shelf
Love Letters
Memoirs
Musings
Quotes
Ramblings
Stories
Travelogues
Workshop

Computing

CC++
Computing Articles
Flash
Internet Security
Java
Linux
Networking
Society Share This Page
Women in Kashmir Citizens at Last
by Pamela Bhagat Bookmark and Share
 

Until now, the women of Jammu and Kashmir were living under an archaic law that denied them equality and justice. Overturning this, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently pronounced a historic verdict - after 25 years of argument - that women marrying outsiders did not stand to lose their right to resident status, work, education and inheritance.

The impugned law that governed 'permanent resident status' in J&K stated that a woman ceased to be a subject of the state if she married a non-J&K resident. What this meant was that she would then lose her right to obtain or continue in a government job, own land and property, pursue higher education, contest or vote in municipal and state elections.

However, non-J&K resident wives of J&K men automatically became state subjects. But there was a condition even for this: "A wife or a widow of a state subject of any class shall acquire the status of her husband as state subject of the same class as her husband, so long as she resides in the state and does not leave the state for permanent residence outside the state."

Henna, daughter of former Chief Minister, Faroukh Abdullah, ceased to be a state subject when she married a South African settled in London. (Ironically, the non-J&K residents whom her father and brother married became entitled to resident status.)

Some of the other prominent women who suffered because of this discriminatory law include Dogri poetess Padma Sachdev; former Maharaja Karan Singh's daughter Jyoti Singh; former state prime minister Bakshi Gulam Mohd's granddaughter, Dr Ruby; Rashmi Singh, daughter of late Om Mehta, a former union minister; and Dr Posh Charak, daughter of the first Member of Parliament from J&K, Thakur Lachhman Singh Charak.

This law concerning 'state subjects' was enforced in J&K on April 20, 1927, when Kashmir's then ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, first promulgated it to prevent rich foreigners from purchasing land, and to protect the interests of the peasantry. The law was later adopted by the state's democratically
elected government.

The law continued till 1957, when the new constitution of J&K was introduced and 'state subject' was changed to 'permanent resident'. Permanent Resident Status (PRS) was accorded to those who had been living in the state for at least 10 years before 14 May 1954. This PRS was permanent and non-discriminatory.

However, on March 25, 1969, the government issued a circular of instructions to all state deputy commissioners, asking them to issue permanent resident certificates to unmarried girls. These would be valid only up to their weddings "so that her status (could be) re-examined and defined on the basis of the status of her husband".

Thus, women residents of J&K had to apply for a fresh certificate at the time of their wedding, explaining the status of their husbands. While marriage could strip women of their citizenship rights, the regulation not only allowed men to retain the benefits of residency even if they migrated to a foreign land but conferred such benefits to their children even if they were born abroad. Some members of the State Legislative Assembly did make several unsuccessful attempts to seek abolition of this discriminatory law but those of the political class who supported it largely outnumbered them.

The various reasons trotted out in support were - "to safeguard our state from going the way of Assam, where the original residents are now in a minority"; "the legislation is in the best interests of the special status of the state"; and "because it is very important to ensure the purity of our progeny"!

Imrana Siddiqui, editor of an Urdu daily, said, "Women's groups have for long ridiculed such claims and are conscious of the fact that there is a deliberate campaign by the men in power to link a women's issue with sensitive ones like `special status of Jammu and Kashmir'." She also maintained that women's groups across the country empathized with the cause but were prevented from taking up the issue, as it was sub-judice.

The legal battle started in 1978 when Amarjeet Kaur of Chogal village in Kupwara district sought to acquire her share of property. Amarjeet and her sister were married in Punjab to non-J&K residents, and their brother claimed that they were no longer residents and therefore could not get  possession of the property. Amarjeet went on to win the case and inspired many more similarly affected women. Rubina Nasarrullah (daughter-in-law of former Punjab Governor Surinder Nath) challenged the law when she was denied admission to pursue post-graduate studies in medicine after marrying an 'outsider'.

The October 2002 judgement - by a full bench of the High Court - is the result of the concerted effort of 12 petitioners. Overruling an earlier judgement that referred to a case in which a woman of the state, on marrying an outsider, acquired the domicile of her husband, the judge concluded, "The judgement no longer holds the field and is overruled because it relied on section 10 of the British Law which had itself been amended."

The judgement has wider implications. Apart from women, celebrating this historic judgement are over 200,000 refugees who came to J&K from the Pakistani side at the time of Partition in 1947. They had been demanding PRS since then and it is now that they have achieved their goal.    

15-Dec-2002
More by :  Pamela Bhagat
 
Views: 1554
Share This Page
Post a Comment
Bookmark and Share
Name*
Email ID*  (will not be published)
Comment
Verification Code*
G7X27
Please fill the above code for verification.

    

 
 
Top | Society



Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan
 


    A Bystander's Diary     Analysis     Architecture     Astrology     Ayurveda     Book Reviews
    Buddhism     Business     Cartoons     CC++     Cinema     Computing Articles
    Culture     Dances     Education     Environment     Family Matters     Festivals
    Flash     Ghalib's Corner     Going Inner     Health     Hinduism     History
    Humor     Individuality     Internet Security     Java     Linux     Literary Shelf
    Love Letters     Memoirs     Musings     My Word     Networking     Opinion
    Parenting     People     Perspective     Photo Essays     Places     PlainSpeak
    Quotes     Ramblings     Random Thoughts     Recipes     Sikhism     Society
    Spirituality     Stories     Teens     Travelogues     Vastu     Vithika
    Women     Workshop
RSS Feed RSS Feed Home | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Site Map
No part of this Internet site may be reproduced without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Developed and Programmed by ekant solutions