The Bill must never pass by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam January 04, 2019

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Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

The Narendra Modi government has railroaded the Triple Talaq Bill through Lok Sabha on sheer strength of a brute majority, contemptuously overlooking the Opposition protests and Muslim minority’s requests to government not to interfere with their religious laws.

There are many numbers of reasons for the Rajya Sabha to reject the Bill, some of which are enumerated here. To begin with, it is the duty of the government of the day to take the opposition along on major issues of legislation in a democracy. In this the BJP-led alliance shrugged off the opposition and Muslim sensitivity just because it was in a majority.

In Rajya Sabha, it is not in a majority and cannot do as it will. It should realise that riding roughshod over the opposition and the religious sentiment of 18 crore people it has laid down a bad precedent, which it will rue when it sits on the opposition benches.

The Bill stinks of utter dishonesty. BJP says it is protecting the rights of Muslim women (in BJP’s words, Musalman behnon ka adhikar). But the Musalman behnen do not want their rights to be protected by BJP, as is evident from dozens of large rallies by Muslim women across cities rejecting BJP’s help. “No, please! We don’t want your help!” is the Muslim women’s response, united and overwhelming. Nobody takes the Muslim Mahila folk on the RSS payroll as anything more than a cruel joke. Such people (female version of you know whom) are not even a drop in the rolling sea of Muslim womanhood.

Why are Muslim women against the Bill? Because they think the Sangh is anti-woman, and all of its organs, including BJP, are misogynists, totally incapable of sympathy with women - Hindu, Muslim, Christian and all others. So, if they say they are well-wishers of Muslim women, they are telling a lie.

There are more visceral, fail-proof and fool-safe evidences for Muslim women to believe so. Who raped and murdered hundreds of Muslim women in Surat and all over Gujarat after the Babri Masjid demolition? Who raped, murdered and burnt alive hundreds of Muslim women 10 years later in Gujarat, in 2002? Who slashed a pregnant Muslim woman’s stomach, pulled out the baby and cut it into pieces before setting everyone on fire in Gujarat pogrom? The answer is BJP men. And, who killed, raped and burnt Muslim men, women and children in Muzaffarnagar 2013? Mobs led by BJP leaders!

Who are they befooling by claiming to be well-wishers of Muslim women? Of course, themselves. Nobody else. Not Muslim women in any case. Muslim women can’t be fooled by false sympathy. If the Sangh is so sympathetic to women, why is it opposing the court’s orders to allow Hindu women into Sabrimala temple? BJP is more vehemently and vociferously opposed to the entry of women into the temple than any other Sangh organisation. It is adamant in its stance even after Hindu women formed a chain from one end of Kerala to another demanding entry.

Why is BJP opposed to allowing temple entry to Hindu women? Because, it says, it is against their faith. By the same logic, is not the government’s high-handed intervention in matters of Muslim faith equally objectionable? Or, is Hindu faith sacrosanct and Muslim faith not so? Is it Constitutionally tenable? Does it not violate the Constitutional equality of all faiths? By the way, have Muslim women made a chain from one end of, say, UP to another, and demanded a Triple Talaq Bill penalising divorce? Where are the Sangh’s hired Muslim women?

Where are the Sangh-sponsored Muslim mahilaen? What is their number? A hundred? Two hundred? Can they form a chain half as long as a flyover in Delhi? Certainly not! Then why are the Hindu women forming a human chain from one end of Kerala to another being fought by BJP, denying them the right to temple entry which is supported by the court? Triple Talaq Bill is nothing but a malicious attempt by Sangh-inspired politicians to defame Muslims. The Sangh’s outfits, including BJP are opposing azaan and namaaz, but are shedding crocodile tears for Muslim women.

The Bill must not pass in the Rajya Sabha because it is Constitutionally invalid. There is no such law for Hindus, or Christians, or anybody else. Triple talaq is nothing but a summary dissolution of marriage, frowned upon by the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s example). In its effect it is exactly the same as a desertion of a wife by her husband, like Narendrabhai Modi deserted wife Yashodaben on the day he married her, summarily, without reason. How many days did he spend in a jail in lieu of three years his government has stipulated for a Muslim offender? Is it equal justice? If it is not that, it is outright unconstitutional.

And what is the facility or ease of justice envisaged in a law that turns a civil misdemeanor into a criminal offence? And who will feed the erring husband’s children and his parents if he is thrown behind the bars? Should the dependents go out in the streets and beg? What happened to the Indian state’s legal obligation to prevent destitution? If the 3-year penalty for triple talaq is legislated, then the state will certainly be forcing destitution on families that it has been obliged by law to prevent.

The proposed law is irrelevant, if not outright injurious, in the light of the Supreme Court ruling that all triple talaq is invalid. If that is the case, what is the point in three-year jail? In any case, a majority of schools of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) are of the view that whether it is talaq pronounced thrice or three hundred times in one sitting, divorce will not occur till it is pronounced separately over three menstrual cycles. In that long period, the parties, their parents, friends and well-wishers are asked to help the spouses patch up, which is almost invariably always the case. In that case, there will be no divorce, triple talaq or three million talaqs in one go.

So, what is the point in the government sticking its neck into the cleft stick? It could concentrate on creating jobs that it had promised in its poll campaign. Or put Rs 15 lakh in every citizen’s bank account, albeit late. Or undo some of the harm to the economy caused by note ban and GST. This government must get its priorities right and forget about Muslim women.

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