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30 Apr 2017

A-bit-rich jibe at PM on talaq - Modi: Do not politicise Others: Didn't you do so?

TT, New Delhi, April 29: Narendra Modi today kept the triple talaq pot simmering by appealing against politicising it but the Prime Minister was later reminded by sections of the community that he himself was responsible for doing so.
"I appeal to you not to view the triple talaq issue from a political perspective. Come out and find a solution. That solution will have its own majesty and generations will remember you," Modi told an event to commemorate the 12th century Kannada philosopher and reformer Basaveswara.
"I am sure enlightened people will also emerge from among Muslims and come forward to end this practice, liberating our Muslim daughters and mothers from the scourge. I am sure enlightened Muslims will take this responsibility upon themselves," Modi added.
The dominant response from within sections of the Muslim community appeared to be: "That's a bit rich coming from you, Prime Minister."
While no Muslim leader had any quarrel with the Prime Minister's call to ensure against triple talaq getting embroiled in politics, they were quick to remind him that it was his own party that was politicising it by repeatedly flagging it.
"The Prime Minister himself is responsible for politicising the issue to create a campaign of hatred against the Muslim community. Despite knowing that the rate of divorce among Muslims is very low, he keeps the issue alive with such statements to distract from the real issues. If he is so concerned about the plight of Muslim women, why has he not reached out to the widow of Pehlu Khan who was killed by goons?" asked Navaid Ahmed, the president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, an umbrella body.
Pehlu Khan was the dairy farmer who was killed by cow vigilantes in Alwar, Rajasthan, earlier this month. The Prime Minister has not uttered a word on the attack till date.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: "Modi is the champion of politicisation.... Who started this controversy? Even today he broached the topic to ensure people don't forget it."
The Prime Minister's articulation of hope that someone from within the Muslim community would take the lead in fighting triple talaq left many in the community a bit amused.
"We have been saying this all along - that the state and the courts should not interfere, and the community should be allowed to deal with the perversions that have crept into triple talaq," pointed out Jamaat-e-Islami Hind secretary general Salim Engineer.
Salim also suggested that the government withdraw its affidavit in the Supreme Court, opposing triple talaq, if the Prime Minister was, indeed, committed to the belief that the solution should emerge from the community itself.
Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan - a petitioner in the case in the Supreme Court against the instant triple talaq - said: "We have always said that the middle class and educated people in the community should support our cause."
Asked if she thought the Prime Minister's statement reflected an intent to go back on its affidavit in the Supreme Court, Soman said: "There is no question of leaving it to the community to resolve something they have not done for 70 years and the government is supporting the movement."
On the Congress and other Muslim organisations pointing out that the BJP had politicised the issue by including it in its manifesto and flagging it constantly, Soman conceded the point but had a counter. "Why didn't the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Mayawati, who claim to be secular and interested in protecting the interests of minorities, speak out against this patriarchy? The BJP got the opportunity because other parties did not do anything."
Since this is the second time in a fortnight that Modi has spoken in favour of a solution to triple talaq emerging from within the community while pursuing the case in the Supreme Court, Salim said he feared a hidden agenda to divide the community.
"In Bhubaneswar, he spoke about women and backwards among Muslims. Today, he hoped that some in the community should take the lead on triple talaq. It is as if he wants to divide us for his own gains. I fear there is a plan to discredit the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations so that the government can prop up some others in the community as representatives. And, then use these people to possibly agree to an out-of-court settlement on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue."
Azad and Salim said no Muslim who follows the Quran in the true sense supports or appreciates instant triple talaq. "Social customs evolve and change with time. Transition is not abrupt. Widow marriage was not allowed among Hindus but it is happening now. The Sati system got abolished. Reforms will happen in all religions. The Supreme Court is looking into the matter. The BJP should not use this issue to divide the Muslim community, to create a schism between Muslim men and women," Azad added.
Soman iterated that what they are fighting against is "instant" and "unilateral" triple talaq initiated only by the man. "We want talaq-e-ehsaan, which is given over a minimum period of 90 days and can be initiated by either the husband or the wife. And, once the marriage is ended, the woman must have rights to maintenance as provided by Islamic law."

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