Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Beti Bachao campaign is abused by none other than BJP leaders themselves. Since the scrapping of Article 370 which had given special status to Jammu & Kashmir, BJP leaders are making fun and memes on Kashmiri girls which sounds against PM’s ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign.
BJP spokesperson Avdhut Wagh said, “All women of Kashmir are our sisters and all residents of Kashmir are our brothers. We have immense respect for them. BJP has issued a statement that after the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir will witness development. You should concentrate on the positive statements issued by BJP and not focus on what is being reported by media.”
As per reports, a BJP MLA from UP has asked the youths of the state to marry the fair girls of Kashmir. His comments had drawn sharp criticism from people on social media. Apart from the MLA, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also said that girls from Kashmir can be brought for marriage. After criticism by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and women organisations over this, Khattar refuted that he had said so. He said that daughters are our pride. On the other hand, the National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma gave hints that Khattar would be asked for explanation over his remarks. She tweeted without naming anyone, “Why their imagination ends at women and their complexion and looks? How they open their big mouth and give these stupid remarks for women? Why people choose them to power? I certainly will ask for his explanation.”
Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “The mindset of BJP leaders has been revealed. They are shameless fellows and don’t have any sensitiveness towards women. They don’t have any respect for women. The true face of BJP has been unveiled.”
Internet users are having discussions of their own. As soon as Union Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement of the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, Google users from Delhi and other cities began to search for Kashmiri girls in large numbers. This comes after the news of plots in Kashmir. A Facebook user said, “Please get it booked for me too. Route cleared for getting a bride. A wave of excitement among unmarried youths.”
It is remarkable that ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (BBBP) was launched by the Prime Minister on January 22, 2015, in Haryana. BBBP addresses the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and related issues of women empowerment over a life-cycle continuum. There is a strong emphasis on mindset change through training, sensitisation, awareness-raising and community mobilisation on ground. The Modi Government is trying to bring about a transformational shift in the way our society looks at the girl child. But leader like Vikram Singh Saini and Minister Manohar Lal Khattar are abusing ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme through their irresponsible statements.
BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “I have not heard about Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s statement. To make insensitive statements about women is not a part of Indian culture. Kashmir is a national issue.”
According to reports, Vikram Singh Saini is a BJP MLA from Khatauli assembly constituency. He can be seen saying at a rally in a video, “Karyakarta bahut utsuk hai aur jo kunwaare hai, unki shaadi wahi karva denge, koi dikkat nahi hai. Kya dikkat hai? Pehle wahaan mahilaon par kitna atyachar tha. Wahaan ki ladki agar kisi Uttar Pradesh ke chorey se shaadi kar le, toh uski nagrikta khatam. Bharat ki nagrikta alag, Kashmir ki alag… Aur jo Muslim karyakarta hai yahaan par, unko khushi manani chahiye… Shaadi wahaan karo na, Kashmiri gori ladki se. Khushi manani chahiye. Poore chahe Hindu, Musalman koi ho. Yeh poore desh ke liye utsah ka vishay hai. (The workers are very excited and those who are bachelors, they can get married there. There is no issue now. Earlier, there was lot of atrocities on women. If a woman from there [Kashmir] gets married to a man from Uttar Pradesh, her citizenship would be revoked. There was different citizenship for India and Kashmir. And the Muslim workers should celebrate here. Get married there. To a fair Kashmiri girl. There should be celebrations. Everyone should celebrate… Be it Hindu or Muslims. This is something the entire country should be celebrating).”
In addition to sexism and colourism in Vikram Singh Saini’s remarks, he is also wrong about the facts. Kashmiri women did not lose their residency if they married someone from outside the state. Former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir government Ishaq Qadri told agencies, “This issue was settled by a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the case titled State and others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and others in October 2002 by striking down the proviso of the state subject (permanent residency) law according to which women marrying outsiders would lose their permanent resident status.”
Vikram Singh Saini was not alone in this belief that women from Kashmir will now marry men from other parts of the country. A number of TikTok videos of men bragging about how they will marry Kashmiri women now have emerged.
Vikram Singh Saini is no stranger to controversy. He is a high-school dropout. The 50-year-old man has several on-going criminal cases from attempts to murder to outraging religious sentiments. It is alarming how he thinks it’s alright to use the temptation of women and property to lure men, the products of patriarchy into rejoicing the scrapping of Article 370.