Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday criticised Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for his comments about Kashmiri women, and said it reflected what years of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh training does to the mind of an insecure man. On Friday, Khattar said people were claiming that Kashmiri women can be brought to the state for marriage now that Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.
Gandhi said women were 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,” Gandhi said in a tweet.
Khattar attacked Gandhi and advised him not to react to “distorted news”. In another tweet, he said “weak, insecure and pathetic” were the adjectives people use to describe Gandhi. “Manufacturing statements & subsequently destroying their own party does not work in the long term,” Khattar wrote.
The chief minister also accused the media of “running a misleading and factless campaign” against him and shared on Twitter a full video of the event.
Khattar, who was speaking on the success of Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign in Haryana, said: “So our [minister OP Dhankar] Dhankhar ji said we will have to bring girls from Bihar. Now some people are saying Kashmir has been opened, we can bring girls from Kashmir also. Jokes aside, if [sex] ratio is fine, then there will be balance in society.”
In 2014, BJP leader OP Dhankar had said he would bring brides from Bihar for men in Haryana if they were unable to find a match in the state infamous for its skewed sex ratio.
Khattar’s comments also drew the ire of the Delhi Commission for Women which said a first information report should be filed against the chief minister for his alleged sexist and misogynistic remarks, PTI reported. “Such statements by those in high constitutional offices reinforce the notions of a patriarchal society and severely undermine the value and voice of women and girls,” the women’s panel said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also condemned Khattar’s comments. “We, and more so people holding high public office, must restrain ourselves from making insensitive comments about the beloved people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Banerjee said in a tweet. “These are hurtful, not only for J&K, but the entire nation.”
All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take action against Khattar. “Ironically Beti bachao Beti Padao was launched & announced in Panipat at Haryana,” she said in a tweet.
There have been a flood of misogynistic comments, with many people expressing views on marrying Kashmiri women, since India on Monday revised Article 370 of Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and ordered all laws to be applicable in the region the way they are in the rest of the country.
This also removed Article 35A of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which gave the state power to define permanent residents of the territory and provided them special rights and privileges, including the right to own land. Under the now repealed article, a female resident of Jammu and Kashmir would lose her property rights and the status of being a state subject if she married someone from outside the state. The provision also applied to the children of the women.
On Wednesday, Bharatiya Janata Party member and MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Khatauli constituency, Vikram Singh Saini said that Muslim party workers should be happy after the Centre’s decisions as they “can now marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir”.