PM To Mufti: Don't Fan The Issue
8 March 2004
The Asian Age
New Delhi: Concerned over the controversial Jammu and Kashmir legislation barring women married to outsiders from inheriting immovable properties, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on spoke to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and urged him to take steps to resolve the issue as it had sparked country-wide opposition. Addressing a gathering at his Race Course residence on the occasion of International Women's Day, Mr Vajpayee said he had spoken to Mr Sayeed on the issue. There has been sharp opposition to the measure taken by Jammu and Kashmir legislature, the Prime Minister said adding he had requested the chief minister to convey to the members of state Assembly and State Legislative Council to find a way out instead of 'fanning the issue further.' Suggesting some steps should be taken to resolve the matter, Mr Vajpayee said 'i hope some way will be found to resolve it.' Thanking women for accepting his invitation for the gathering, Mr Vajpayee said in a lighter vein that 'elections are here and I will not now make a speech. Because what else will I be doing during the poll campaign?' His remarks drew peals of laughter from the audience which included Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptulla, parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharati, former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley and BJP's Mahila Morcha chief Kanta Nalawade. The Prime Minister, who mingled with women invitees after the function, released a pamphlet brought out by the morcha highlighting achievements of his government in empowering women. Strong condemning the J&K bill, Ms Heptulla regretted how it was approved by Mufti Sayeed government when Congress led by Sonia Gandhi was part of it and the chief minister's daughter Mehbooba was the PDP chief. 'It (the bill) is unconstitutional and discriminatory. How did the J&K Cabinet allow it? How can this happen when two women (Gandhi and Mehbooba Mufti) are in the picture,' she asked. 'If the bill comes to me I will tear it. Referring it to any committee will not work,' she said appealing to the Prime Minister.