For the first time, prominent Muslim intellectuals and groups hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for preaching “justice” for Muslim women. They questioned his moral right and authority to speak about Muslim women when he himself is ‘guilty’ of abandoning his wife and allowing crimes against Muslim women in Gujarat.
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — As the debate on triple talaq – particularly in the electronic media – has crossed all the levels of decency, the Indian Muslims have really started to feel the heat. They see in it as a clear design to malign and demonize Muslims and Islam. Now they have decided that the best defense is a good offense. So for the first time, prominent Muslim leaders and groups hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for preaching “justice” for Muslim women. They questioned his moral right and authority to speak about Muslim women when he himself is ‘guilty’ of abandoning his wife and allowing crimes against Muslim women and stalking of young women in Gujarat under his orders.
Recently exhibiting his ‘concern’ again for Muslim women, Modi raised the triple talaq issue at the two-day National Executive meeting of the BJP in Bhubaneswar last week. Delivering the concluding address at the meet, the PM said as quoted by Nitin Gadkari during the briefing to the media that “Ham nahin chahate ke Muslim samaj main sangharsh ho, nyay milna chahiye”.
“We do not want any strife in the Muslim society, but (Muslim women) should get justice and none should be exploited”.
Earlier, in October 2016, Modi also spoke on this subject. While addressing the ‘Parivartan Maharally’ in Bundelkhand, he condemned the practice of the so-called ‘triple talaq system’ saying “What is the crime of my Muslim sister that just like that over the telephone someone says ‘talaq’ three times and her whole life is ruined?…No injustice should be meted out to our mothers and sisters in the name of religion or community.”
At the BJP National Executive meeting, he again said Muslim women should move forward and wondered whether “we could not help them in their effort?”He also urged party workers to reach out to Muslim women and ensure that they are not troubled by anyone.
Terming Modi’s new-found love for Muslim women as “sheer hypocrisy”, Welfare Party of India President Dr S Q R Ilyas told Caravan Daily that “a person who did not do justice to his wife for the last 48 years and allowed sexual assaults on Muslim women during the 2002 riots in Gujarat has no moral right to speak about Muslim women or any other women of the country”.
Indeed, Modi’s marital status is a curious case. For the first time after filing nomination papers for the Vadodara Parliamentary constituency in 2014 general elections, he admitted that he was a married man and his wife’s name was Jashodaben. Earlier, he used to leave the “spouse” column in poll affidavits blank.
“First Mr Modi used to deny that he is a married man and now he himself has admitted his marital status by revealing his wife’s name. What does then prevent him from bringing his estranged wife to his home honorably?” Dr Ilyas asked.
According to quora.com, “Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi and Narendra Modi’s marriage was arranged by the latter’s parents, in keeping with the traditions of the Ghanchi caste. While the two were engaged when Modi was 13 years of age, they got married in 1968, when Modi was 18 years of age. The marriage took place in Modi’s native village, Vadnagar, in Mehsana district. The couple lived together for 3 months, after which Modi left home to travel across India, journeying as a ‘sanyasi’, as he described it to his family.”
Modi also tried to give divorce to his wife as The Telegraph reported: “Modi, along with his brother Somabhai visited Jashodaben in 1987, to attempt and work out a mutual divorce. She, however, did not agree to this arrangement”.
Dr Ilyas has underlined that Modi not only deprived Jashodaben’s rights of a wife, but also rights of a citizen as she did not get a passport to visit her family members abroad. In 2015, Jashodaben had applied for a passport but her application was rejected because she failed to produce marriage certificate or a joint affidavit with the spouse which is mandatory for getting a passport.
Echoing his views, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that the PM’s sudden concern for Muslim women is a pretense and reflects his sheer duplicity on the subject.
Speaking to Caravan Daily, Maulana Rahmani asked: “Where was he when Muslim women were being raped and pregnant women’s womb were being ripped apart with swords and tridents under his watchful eyes during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002?”
If he had really been concerned about Muslim women, then he would have earned justice to rape survivors of Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar riots as well as Zakia Jafri, the frail widow of former MP Ehsan Jafri who was brutally killed under his nose when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Maulana Rahmani said.
“Mr. Modi cannot be and never will be the well-wisher of Muslims as this government came to power with the hollow promises and “jmualaabazi” ( empty talk) has become its hallmark”, said Dr Manzoor Alam, Chairman of Institute of Objective Studies.
The PM should stop shedding crocodile tears and stop patronizing Muslim women because the world knows how much care he took of Muslim women when they were being raped and burnt by mobs under his watchful eyes, Dr Alam said.
Propaganda and Low Divorce Rate in Muslim Society
The shrill propaganda over triple talaq issue is like making a mountain out of a molehill. The facts and figures explicitly suggest that the divorce rate among Muslims in the 2011 Census is lower than among Hindus and other religious communities. And while there is no survey on cases of ‘triple talaq’, the incidence could be as low as 1% of the total. Neither the government nor the Law Commission has conducted any survey on the extent of triple talaq among Indian Muslims.
The survey conducted by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) claimed the divorce rate among Muslims to be as high as 11% as opposed to the Census. However, when this scribe contested survey findings with the BBMA founder member Zakia Soman, her only explanation was that divorced Muslim women did not reveal their status to Census enumerators.
Furthermore, a random sample survey done by the Muslim Mahila Research Kendra (MMRK) contradicts BBMA’s claims. Dr. Asma Zehra, who is also a member of the AIMPLB, said MMRK collected data through RTI applications in family courts in Muslim concentration districts that showed the prevalence of divorce among minority community to be lower than Hindus, contrary to the perception that is sought to be made about his community being a perpetually divorcing lot. A random survey of 13,000 women across the country showed 100 cases of divorce, of which a dozen were through instant triple talaq.
Dr. Ilyas said it is a clear-cut case of making a non-issue as a very serious matter while Muslim women feel safer and secure than Hindu women who have been by and large regarded as a ‘chattel’.
Look at the facts. Over five lakh women have been killed for dowry as a bride is burnt every 90 minutes in India despite the Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA) was enacted way back in 1961; in Punjab alone more than 15,000 women are abandoned by their foreign-national husbands and in spite of stringent sexual assault laws as many as 34,651 rape cases came to notice during 2015, he added and said it is just like pot calling the kettle black.
When asked why the Muslim Personal Law Board in its recent Executive Council meeting did not take notice of the PM’s remarks and propaganda unleashed by a section of media, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said that Islam does not permit to insult and hurt the sentiments of people of other faiths and the Board maintains certain decorum and cannot steep to such a low.