Women's Bill Boosts Demand For Separate Jammu State
16 March 2004
The Times of India
Jammu: A controversial bill seeking to rescind the rights of Jammu and Kashmir women who marry outside the state has boosted demands for the creation of a separate state comprising the Jammu region. The Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill has received wide support from the Kashmir Valley , which has a Muslim majority population but is perceived as being discriminatory in the Hindu- dominated Jammu region. A majority of women in the Jammu region marry outside the state, and people there feel the bill could adversely affect their rights. This has provoked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to step up its demand for the creation of a separate state comprising Jammu to guard the interests of the people. State BJP unit chief Nirmal Singh, who has been leading protests against the bill, declared if Kashmir 's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP)- Congress alliance continued to pursue such discriminatory policies against the people of the Jammu and Ladakh regions, then 'we would be left with no other option but to opt for a separate state'. The lower house of the Kashmir legislature has passed the bill but the upper house was adjourned indefinitely last week without passing it. Talking to reporters, Singh alleged the PDP and the Congress were working for the disintegration of the state and inciting communal passions. Jammu Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Jammu State Morcha - the two groups that also want a separate state - have come out more vociferously in support of their demand. Both groups alleged political parties based in the Kashmir Valley dominate the Jammu region. 'Kashmiri rulers of the state have come out with their real face and now we have to respond by intensifying our agitation against them and make Jammu a separate state,' JMM president Virender Gupta declared at a rally held to protest the controversial bill. Jammu State Morcha chairman Shree Kumar too has voiced similar sentiments. He said the 'Government of India should recognise the dangers posed by these rulers and we should now be prepared to get Jammu state at all costs'.