(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
What do I tell which all of you already don’t know?
Maybe to my Muslim brethren who fault the Triple Talaq Bill—still not an Act till President Ram Nath Kovind puts his pen to paper– on its (a) criminal; (b) maintenance; (c) interference; and (d) whataboutery aspects that (i) cruelty against wife is a criminal offence; (ii) maintenance provided for by erring husbands is statutory; (iii) interference citing Islam is neither borne out by Quran nor by practice since most Muslim states, including Pakistan, have outlawed it; nor (iv) Hindus or other minorities could escape punishment for cruelty against wife.
Maybe to those who are still smarting at the betrayal of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), along with those avowed champions of “minorities” and “secular values” such as JD(U), TRS, RJD, TDP and NCP that when push came to shove, these parties didn’t want to be seen in the Muslim corner and stand against the overwhelming tide. Parties such as SP and BSP still have nightmares about BJP leading in 385 out of 403 assembly seats and why Muslims are no longer the vote-bank they espoused! Their personal brief honeymoon is over too.
Maybe to those who see Mehbooba Mufti as champion of Islam, a baffling fact that her two PDP members in the Rajya Sabha stayed away from the vote-count even as she kept scare-mongering that BJP was “entering into our (Muslim) homes” using the legislation. Her rival for favours in the Kashmir Valley, Omar Abdullah didn’t miss out in pointing out her double standards even as he himself kept his counsel to himself.
And then you have Arvind Kejriwal who bemoaned the loss of Muslim votes after the 2019 Polls but is now frozen to his spot on the matter of Triple Talaq Bill. This is the man who wants a survey done on government jobs to ascertain the percentage of Muslim employees and whether the low number is evidence of a deep-rooted prejudice by the system.
Maybe to those who know or don’t know the names of the Congressmen who absented themselves (namely, Vivek Tankha, Ranjib Biswal, Mukut Mithi, Pratap Bajwa and Sanjay Sinh), it may come as a surprise that they did so against the express whip of their party to be present in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. Sonia Gandhi and the two apples of her eye: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra have cloaked themselves from the public scrutiny on Triple Talaq Bill and their writ probably doesn’t run large as it used to.
Today, the husband-wife duo of Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose; Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt are like frogs in the well of silence. Gupta has donned the persona of a Sherlock Holmes as he delves into every grain of coffee that its founder, now unfortunately dead, VG Siddhartha ever managed for his enterprise, Café Coffee Day. Barkha Dutt has worked herself into a lather on the Unnao rape victim. Sagarika Ghose is just a cryptic “I-don’t-support-Triple-Talaq” while her husband is just an anchor on the subject with no personal opinion. And you thought their calling was upholding “freedom” and “gender justice.”
All of them have been caught in a bind. You stand up for Triple Talaq Bill and you alienate the Muslim community which number over 9 crores. You rail against the Bill and earn the wrath of fair gender and not just of Muslim women.
It’s the larger picture which has left them shaken to the core. An empowered BJP would now find it easier to push for the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. The hoax of scare-mongering is exposed. BJP, in one stroke, has created millions of extra votes for itself. The Opposition has nothing better than a fig leaf to hide their shame. The injustice of Shah Bano has been righted after a generation’s gap.
Above all, empowering Muslim women could transform the community. It frees them up to express opinion and seek financial security, gain education and pass on the good word to their kids. It loosens the control of Mullahs and Owaisis who exert it through the boardroom of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) or the platforms of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).
As for Modi, history could judge him as the leader who took the first steps towards emancipation of a community which were led up the garden path by Nehru-Gandhis; Muftis and Abdullahs; Bukharis and Owaisis without deliverance. This would be the irony of the sweetest kind.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called out Congress for being only a “Muslim-male” friendly party with no thought to Muslim women. His frustration has stemmed from the “triple talaq” Supreme Court judgment last year, still awaiting legislation despite being cleared in Lok Sabha, held up as it is in Rajya Sabha.
On the face of it, it’s a “hara-kiri” by Congress: The ratio of Indian muslim women vis-à-vis men is 951 per thousand. Why risk losing such a significant share of votes when the party is fighting for survival?
The answer is in these bland statistics: As per the 2011 Census data, 13.5 Muslim women are married before they turn 15. The ratio rises to nearly 50 per cent for Muslim women getting married between 14-19 years. The child thus “transferred” at a fragile age is unlikely to resist the patriarchal order, from the one of father to the new one of husband. Such a “captive” audience would do as the overarching men in the family would ask them to do. Love, set and match.
The Muslim women, thus married early, are also unlikely to finish their education. An uneducated women has lesser chance of being employed. Lack of financial security drives them further inside the cage. This is the story from one generation to another to the next one. There is no escaping from this rigid order which acquires a “Quranic” sanction only Mullahs or All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) can decode in this land. In order to keep their hold watertight, they then announce grandiosely to have a “Sharia Court” in every 640 districts of the country.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) demands our attention for this body has been active for over a dozen years. It came into existence during Gujarat Riots of early 2000 where, as per its founder Zakia Soman, she felt a common thread of being from a “marginalized gender” with Muslim women in camps. “Marginalized in families; marginalized in community,” as she says it.
Soman recounts a vivid experience: “We were working to enroll girls in school, get scholarships…and find some kind of work with decent wages and social security. After three years, Muslim women started coming to us from all over the country…`You helped my daughter…helped me fill some form for the government. That was very good, but now my husband has divorced me instantly and thrown me out. And I don’t have a home to go to…I don’t know where to go with my children. Can you please help me’?”
So it’s much more than just about “triple talaq.” It’s also much more than polygamy, inheritance or abortion. It’s a state of perpetual slavery, without education, without jobs, without security. You also can’t keep your children with you, if so the men wish. The Mullahs who interpret “Quran” in this manner are lying, pure and simple.
“There are direct verses in the Quran…that support our claim to equality and gender justice… For the first time both women and men were learning that Quran is not about what some groups had been suggesting.” says Soman.
The truth is, the personal laws for Muslims remain uncodified in India. Hindus have the succession act of 1956; the Christians have their own marriage act but Muslim leadership has taken refuge under the Constitution which allows for family law to be based on religion. The Muslim laws remain uncodified in India. The codification of the laws too would solve little for the well-being of Indian muslim women. As long as they are disempowered due to lack of education, and consequent financial independence, they would be herded like sheeps in perpetuity. The patriarchal society would assert its domination.
Neither child marriage nor education/financial independence of Indian muslim women is a matter on which you would see a Congress leader stick his neck out. That’s the vote-base they have cultivated for decades after decades. Never mind the abject situation of muslim women; never a thought as to what a self-confident woman could do to free-up her next generation; never a reflection how it would “de-ghettoised” a community and turbo-charge the growth of country. All muslims in this country have got is religious leadership; there has been no attempt to create social or democratic leadership from within.
It’s facile and silly to play to the gallery with quips like “jhoothon ka sardar” in response to the charge Modi has made against Congress for appeasing muslim men only. Discerners remember at certain times “maut ka saudagar” or “khoon-ki-dalali” one-liners have emerged from the Congress camp. Sometimes, Modi is called “tughlaqi”. At other times “feku.” Rajdeep Sardesai once on stage called him “mass murderer.” His wife Sagarika Ghose kept screaming about Modi and his Louis Vuitton shawl till the company clarified it doesn’t make shawls. Rahul Gandhi mentioned “khoon ki dalali”; one of his senior leaders had the word “neech” in his mind. The parties which intend to form a Mahagathbandhan with Congress are no better. Sitaram Yechuri of CPI (M) mentions “pick-pocket” in reference to Modi. Arvind Kejriwal, the epitome of masculinity, called Modi a “coward and psychopath.” All of these can be referred here.
When a Congress leader spreads the fear of a “Hindu Pakistan”, he ought to remind his party that even Pakistan has outlawed “triple talaq.” So by appearing to support its retention, they actually plan to make India worse than a Pakistan.
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has plans to introduce Sharia Courts (Darul-Qaza) in all 640 districts of India.
Even though Sharia Courts have no locus standi in the precincts of India’s courts, and that individuals and not a religious group is an entity in the eyes of a “secular” state, the AIMPLB recommends itself to solve the personal conflicts of Muslims in this country, citing the inordinate time a case takes in legal courts and claiming the guardianship of interpreting “Quran” the holy book for its adherents.
It’s a dangerous, calculated ploy by the AIMPLB to present itself as the upholder of “Quran” and thus obtain a complete subservience from the Muslim population of India, preparing a ground of conflict with India’s legal system which has recently made a move on the “triple talaq” issue and which is at the cusp of making a “Ram Janmabhoomi” verdict.. It’s preparing a ground for “two-nation” theory and has seeds of another Partition, another Pakistan in it.
The threat is real due to the weak nature of Indian judiciary which, in the past, passed a Shah Bano judgement couched as its “interpretation” of Sharia laws. India’s rule of government is no better in cracking a whip on a body about whom 95.5% percent of Muslim women have not even heard of.
Prof. Mohammad Tahir, an international expert on Muslim law, and a former chairman of Minorities Commisson, has no doubt that the Muslim law board manipulates Quran to perpetuate regressive laws and that it needs to be abolished. A few of the instances he cites,are worth quoting: “There are two verses in Quran on talaq. One verse says, `Divorce is only twice.’ The other Quranic verse says a person can’t divorce his wife unless there is an arbitration or reconciliation process from both sides. The Maulvis prefer to choose the first verse as law and the second as a mere morality.
“Similarly there is no Quaranic sanction for a Muslim law which treats two female witnesses as equal to one male witness… Every sensible Hadith is declared false, every sensible verse of the Quran has been abrogated.”
“Frankly I want (Muslim law) board to be abolished. It’s members are paranoid and they speak rubbish. Everytime the Supreme Court delivers a judgement, the Board says it is interfering with the Shariat.”
We have the instances of Muslim women denied fair marriage, divorce, adoption and property rights. No women-in -dargahs; polygamy etc is practiced. Prohibition on child marriage is opposed by AIMPLB. Free voices, like Salman Rushdie, would continue to be muzzled.
The fall-out and damage to India’s social fabric consequently has been massive. It has led to Muslims retreating themselves into “ghettos” and “no-go zones.” There is no assimilation and thus regressive mindset kicks in which fuels similar destructive forces of other minorities. In the name of “secularism”, the majority in India allows such self-appointed bodies to hijack and set the agenda for the minorities to the detriment of the nation.
Thus a “nation-within-nation” takes shape. It’s funded by forces which wants jihad for Muslim sovereignty across the globe. From US to Philippines, every society today is facing this challenge. First, an exclusive area is forged; it then develops into a zone which police has problem in accessing. Lawlessness emerges. Politicians fish in troubled waters. It’s not long before government loses control of such areas. Terrorism and drugs thus come to hold sway. Soon there is a call to declare them “Islamic zones.” Several European cities today are victims of such phenomenon. For example, a radical group in UK wants 12 British cities, including London, to turn into independent Islamic states.
Look at Bengal. It has hundreds and thousands of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, duly aided by ISI-modules. Consequently, there are 100s of villages in Bengal where police has no say, abetted of course by politicians. When fundamentalist Mullahs make a call for no-entry to the likes of Taslima Nasreen, neither police nor politicians are of any help.
Initially, the British judges in India were assisted by Muftis and Qazis. The Qazis Act of 1880 deprived the Qazis of their judicial powers. The British courts thereafter made judgment on Muslim Personal Law. There was a persistent demand in the first quarter of 20th century to have Sharia Courts. Muslims followed the Hindu Act till 1937 when the Muslim Personal Law Application Act was passed. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board came into being during Indira Gandhi’s rule in 1973.
The life around us could soon descend into chaos, anarchy, riots and who knows, civil war. That’s what happens in completely communally polarized societies with weak judiciary and appeasement politics. Similar was the situation during the final years of Raj when bigoted forces managed to vivisect India, slicing off its Eastern and Western arms. Appeasement lay at the root of it. History seems set to repeat itself and it would, unless it’s dealt with firmly and decisively. As citizens, we would be no less responsible for our indifference.
Indian Express in its second lead on front page on Thursday have twisted itself into a tangle. Its’ murder of logic is something which Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes (or our own Col. Vinod) would utterly fail to solve.
Its’ Ayodhya story has so many loose ends that its multiple writers (the creditline is: Express News Service) could win world championship in “Fake News” but to pass them off as journalists is only possible in most creepy and insane mental asylum. And to think somebody actually cleared the copy and decorated the Front Page with it is Ripley’s textbook material. Such scripts can present the whodunit movie makers a guaranteed blockbuster.
The 1000-word gorilla of a story essentially tries to prove that Kapil Sibal was representing an individual client and not UP Sunni Waqf Board and the guy (Haji Mehboob) who snubbed Sibal on his unprompted remark “postpone-Ayodhya-hearing-till-July 2019” was not a member of the board.
Readers can read the entire Express story in this link and then most possibly would join me in posing a set of questions to the newspaper:
(a) Even if Sibal is representing this individual client Iqbal Ansari (this guy must be rich to afford Sibal), his remarks have been disowned by Ansari himself. So whose case is Mr Sibal fighting? (our guess is Congress. Express could’ve asked even “piddi” to get this answer).
(b) Express quotes a lawyer of the UP Sunni Waqf Board for claiming Haji Mehboob is not its member. It then quotes Mehboob for having met Sibal in Delhi three days ago. In what capacity? (for as per Express Sibal-Waqf Board-Haji Mehboob are all unrelated).
(c) Express states that Mehboob replaced his father as a defendant in the Ayodhya case. Who’s the father? Express doesn’t make an effort to clarify.
(d) Express brings All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to buttress its story with this quote in support of Sibal. “…it was not the right time to take up the matter for final hearing.” But who’s AIMPLB? Isn’t the body in question in UP Sunni Waqf Board? Why not speak to them and find out whether they had authorized Sibal’s views or not?
(e) For a moment, let’s admit AIMPLB is legitimate body to comment. Shouldn’t Express have asked them how they arrived at the conclusion that the “right time” has to be after July 2019?
(f) Could it be that Express wasn’t able to access Sunni Waqf Board? But then how was it able to lay hand on one of its Advocates-on-Record and quote him extensively without asking the primary question: What’s UP Sunni Waqf Board stance?
(g) What are readers supposed to make sense when it reads from other sources that UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Ahmed Farooqi has said: “none of the members supported the view that the case be deferred.” (Express can claim it couldn’t get Farooqi on record. But would it carry Sunni Waqf Board’s views next day?)
Express then states that Modi has “picked up” the Sibal quote and goes on extensively to quote the latter, allowing him to offer his defence.
Sibal predictably lays into BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing them of having no principle in politics. He outlines the virtues of Congress and how it wants unity in the country. His grouse against employment, exports, GDP situation in the country is allowed full vent.
But Express fails to ask Sibal a basic question: Who do you think you were representing? Neither UP Sunni Waqf Board nor your independent client has supported your comment. If indeed you are present in the hearing as a lawyer and not as a politician, why colour the legal proceedings with apprehensions on political fallout in 2019 General Elections?
Express doesn’t ask some basic questions in this story. All it does is to sweat and put Sibal and Sunni Waqf Board in separate pigeon holes and labours to make them appear in better light.
The attempt is a massive flop. And even its diehard fans are asking: How come “journalism of courage” has turned into “gutter of journalism?”