New Delhi: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s remarks on Kashmiri women have kicked up a Twitter storm.
A clip of the minister, while speaking half-jokingly at a ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign in Fatehabad district Friday, has gone viral on social media.
In the clip, used in an ANI report, he is seen saying that girls from Kashmir can now be brought to Haryana for marriage — this has led to outrage on social media with Congress’s Rahul Gandhi calling it “despicable”.
However, the comment has been taken out of context. Here’s what Khattar actually said at the event:
“Earlier people used to say that Haryana is a daughter-killer state. But we worked hard towards awareness and now the sex ratio has increased from 850 to 933. Our minister O.P. Dhankar once said that he would bring bahu from Bihar. Now that (Article) 370 is abrogated, people are saying that we will bring girls from Kashmir. It is a joke but that aside (mazaak ki baatein alag hain) gender balance in society has to be maintained.”
The ANI clip left out the part from the video where Khattar suggested that he was only joking.
‘Cruel statement from a lawmaker’
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised Khattar and said “women are not assets to be owned by men”.
“Haryana CM, Khattar’s comment on Kashmiri women is despicable and shows what years of RSS training does to the mind of a weak, insecure and pathetic man,” he tweeted.
Several Twitter users also condemned Khattar for his remarks.
Another user called it a “cruel statement from a lawmaker” and wrote, “…we don’t want such people to rule the world’s largest democracy”.
However, some came to Khattar’s rescue, condemning those who jumped the gun without watching the full speech first.
One such user called it a “vicious propaganda”, highlighting the fact that only a part of the clip has gone viral.
There were also users who felt that it was “tasteless” and “sexist” for Khattar to have joked about it at all.
Just four days ago, BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini had also made similar statements, saying that his party workers, especially Muslims, can rejoice as they can now marry fair-skinned Kashmiri women.
Misunderstanding of Article 35A
The comments come in the light of Narendra Modi government’s scrapping of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35A.
Article 35A allowed only “permanent residents” to own land in the erstwhile state which is now a union territory. Owing to this, there was a widespread belief that Kashmiri women would lose their permanent resident status if they married outside the state.
But the perception was not true.
In 2002, in The State of Jammu & Kashmir and Others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and Others, a three-judge bench of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court held that women who were permanent residents of the state would not lose their status upon marrying someone outside of the state or with non-permanent resident status, and were eligible to inherit property even after being married.
On the matter of heirs and whether they also inherit permanent resident status, the bench referred the matter to a larger bench. That case was due to be heard by the Supreme Court, but now, Article 35A has been nullified.