Thursday, June 30, 2016

Notes From Saudi Arabia: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — The Face...

Notes From Saudi Arabia: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — The Face...: By SIRAJ WAHAB in JEDDAH WHEN Saudi Arabia’s King Salman named him as the deputy crown prince a year ago, few outside the royal circle k...

Govt trying to save BJP-RSS members involved in terror cases : Congress - Muslim Mirror | NIA meddled in Malegaon case, motive dodgy: Ex-prosecutor By Swati Deshpande, TOI

Muslim Mirror

Govt trying to save BJP-RSS members involved in terror cases : Congress

June 30, 2016 in Home SliderIndian Muslim | 0 Comment
Sadhvi Pragya with MP CM Shivraj Singh and Rajnath Singh.
Sadhvi Pragya with MP CM Shivraj Singh and Rajnath Singh.
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: In the wake of severe remarks against the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by a Mumbai Special Court in the Malegaon blast case, the opposition Congress party on Wednesday reiterated the demand of removing NIA chief from his position immediately and re-appointment of Rohini Salian as special public prosecutor in the case.  Accusing the Modi government of trying to save RSS-BJP members involved in terror cases, the party said the court remarks vindicated it observation the NIA has become  ‘Namo Investigation Agency’ and lost its credibility.  
Addressing media persons here,   Congress Spokesperson, Shobha Oza said the Modi government is playing with the security of the nation as it has been trying to save the prime accused in the bomb blast cases having affiliation with the BJP or RSS from the day one after coming to power at the centre.
She asked that Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh should explain to the country that in their Government who is the ‘manipulative hand’ in this case and carrying out the miscarriage of justice.
It is to mention that a Special Court in Mumbai came down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for not investigating the role of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and for re-recording of the statements of witnesses recorded earlier by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). The court observed there were reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against her were prima facie true and rejected her bail plea.
Ironically in its charge sheet, the NIA had said there was no case made out against Sadhvi Pragya. Seven people were killed in the blast at Malegaon on September 29, 2008. Sadhvi Pragya was charged in 2009 by the ATS which said it was her motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb. On Tuesday, Special Judge S D Tekale said Sadhvi Pragya “cannot avoid her connection with the motorcycle” registered in her name and used in the blast.
The Court’s observations are a damning statement on the way the Malegaon blast case is being handled by the NIA. Earlier investigations done by the Maharashtra ATS under Martyred officer Hemant Karkare was rubbished by the NIA terming it ‘Dubious’ and ‘Questionable’. This clearly was an attempt to malign an officer of impeccable integrity.
In 2015, Rohini Salian, who was the Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon case, had spoken on affidavit that she was under pressure from the NIA to be lenient on the case. She had also filed an affidavit naming the NIA officer who had approached her. Salian was later de-notified from the panel of lawyers.
The Congress spokeswoman said now the Court has questioned the role of the NIA; the BJP   and the Government at the center need to answer the following questions;
  1. Was NIA under any pressure to play second fiddle to the BJP and its ministers?
  2. Are sensitive cases related to national security being deliberately manipulated to undermine law and justice?
  3. Who was behind the NIA officers who had contacted Rohini Salian, maligned Karkare and played a dangerous game? Shouldn’t there be a probe in the case in the spirit of probity and justice.
  4. We demand that the de-notification of specific lawyers from the NIA panel be probed thoroughly and prosecutors dropped deliberately be reinstated.
In response to a question, she said why the Modi government did not make public the B K Prasad report on Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case?  This government has been misleading and diverting the attention of the people from real issues by making baseless allegations, she added.
In reply to a question related to BJP president’s remark about the death of Shayma Prasad Mukherjee, Mrs.  Oza said, “whether any of their organization Members had raised the question then, when earlier reports of investigation had come in, then why were they silent all these years. Now the year 2016 is going on. Where was Atal Ji’s Government? Why did they not raise this question then and get the investigation done. It is their Government in both Centre and J&K; they should answer rather than raising questions, even on Deen Dayal Upadhyay”.
Meanwhile, ex-prosecutor Rohini Salian also reacted to the scathing remarks of the court on the NIA saying “the manner NIA carried out the probe casts doubt on the very motive of their investigation and on why the case was handed to them”.  She said that by dropping of serious charges under MCOCA in the case, NIA was interfering in the process of the court…. This is a fit case for NIA to hand back the probe to the ATS.   
Inline image 1
Jun 30 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
NIA meddled in Malegaon case, motive dodgy: Ex-prosecutor

Swati Deshpande


A day after a special trial court came down heavily on the NIA while rejecting a bail plea of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in the 2008 Malegaon blasts alegaon blasts case, former special public prosecutor in the case Rohini Salian said the “manner NIA car ried out the probe casts doubt on the very motive of their investigation and on why the case was handed to them“.She added that by recommending dropping of serious charges under MCOCA in the case, “NIA was interfering in the process of the court...This is a fit case for NIA to hand back the probe to the ATS,“ Salian said.
Six people died in the September 29, 2008 blast.
Sadhvi Pragya was charged in 2009 by the ATS, which said her motorcycle was used to plant a bomb.NIA took over in 2011 and in its charge sheet this March recommended that organised crime charges should go and gave the sadhvi a clean chit. Thakur had relied on the NIA charge sheet for her bail plea. Salian last year alleged she was approached by an NIA officer in June 2014 -after the NDA government took charge at the Centre -with a request to “go soft“ on the accused, including the sadhvi and Col Prasad Purohit.
The NIA had refuted the allegation. Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had said her allegation “was baseless'' after pointing out that in the SC, four accused got bail under her watch. Salian said “that was on merit“.
On Wednesday , asked if Pragya's bail rejection vindicated her stand, Salian told TOI: “I have faith in the court. I cannot blow my trumpet but rule of law has prevailed and will continue to prevail.'' The NIA had arrested four people but delayed the charge sheet, enabling their bail, she said. “Surprisingly , the NIA has said they don't have sufficient evidence against the four and have sought their discharge, with four others including the sadhvi,“ she added.
The special NIA court judge on Tuesday questioned the agency for re-recording statements of some of the earlier witnesses. Salian expressed similar concerns. “ Apart from these new statements where the witnesses were shown to have resiled and favoured the sadhvi and some other accused, the NIA has no new material to show for its four-year probe between 2011 and 2016,“ she said.
“Giving the sadhvi a clean chit and recommending dropping of the case was not in the province of the NIA 's probe. It is the province of the court because the court had already taken cognizance in 2009 of the ATS charge sheet against all the accused, including the sadhvi,'' Salian said. “By recommending at this stage, even before charges are framed, to drop MCOCA charges, according to me, amounts to interference in court proceedings.''
What clearly got her goat as an ex-public prosecutor is that the NIA made allegations against officers of the ATS. “They accused late ATS chief Hemant Karkare and his team of being under pressure, which is not only maligning an officer who is not present to refute the charges, but it is not within their jurisdiction.'' Referring to the NIA charge that an ATS officer had planted RDX, she said: “On what basis have the NIA come to the conclusion? Can they merely cite improved statement of the accused and witness to come to this conclusion?'' “There was plenty of evidence in the ATS charge sheet against all 12 accused. The Bombay HC had restored the MCOCA charges after the special court initially dropped them, and the Supreme Court did not interfere.It only asked that the challenge to MCOCA be re-examined in the trial court at the time of framing of charges,“ said Salian.
She pointed out NIA has the power to both take over cases from other agencies and hand them back. “This is one case where they should hand back the case to the earlier agency (ATS) since it appears that they have not managed to get any evidence,'' she said.
“What is before the court now is the ATS charge sheet and ultimately the court would conduct the trial on that charge sheet,'' she added.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

US based Muslim group condemns Istanbul terror attack, calls to fight terrorism unitedly

US based Muslim group condemns Istanbul terror attack, calls to fight terrorism unitedly: By MM News, NEW YORK: Muslim Alliance Against Religious and Ultranationalist Terrorism (MAARUT), a network of Muslim peace activists, condemns in the strongest terms the despicable terrorist bombin...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Conspiracy, under the carpet - By Teesta Setalvad - The Indian Express

The Indian Express

Conspiracy, under the carpet

Substantive pieces of circumstantial and documentary evidence appear to have been overlooked in the Gulberg Society verdict.

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Updated: June 27, 2016 1:04 am

Gulberg Society, Gulberg Society massacre, Gulberg Society attack, 2002 Gulberg massacre, ehsan jafri, zakia jafri, zakia jafri petition, ehsan jafri death, ehsan jafri murder, india newsThe scenes of the second worst carnage were the ones that played out at Gulberg Society within a few kilometres of Naroda Patiya (the worst massacre) and 3.9 km of the Shahibaug police HQ. Illustration: C R Sasikumar
The dictionary meaning of the word conspiracy is not far removed from the understanding of it evolved in Indian legal jurisprudence. The Oxford dictionary explains it as: “A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful”.
Over the years, in deciding the question of “conspiracy” (120A and 120B of the IPC), the Supreme Court has opined that it is a substantive offence, normally hatched in secrecy; it is difficult to have direct evidence and constitutes different acts by various parties and mostly circumstantial evidence; an actual meeting of two persons is not necessary nor actual words used but a tacit agreement backed by a series of offences is enough to prove the motive behind the commission of grossly illegal acts.
It has never been disputed, either in the popular narrative nor in the voluminous legal proceedings over close to 15 years now, that large mobs were allowed to gather from the early hours of February 28, 2002, the day after the mass arson at Godhra in several parts of Ahmedabad, and thereafter, all over Gujarat.
The scenes of the second worst carnage were the ones that played out at Gulberg Society within a few kilometres of Naroda Patiya (the worst massacre) and 3.9 km of the Shahibaug police HQ, under the watch of then police commissioner, P.C. Pande. On June 2, 2016, special judge, P.B. Desai proclaimed that “he had not accepted the charge of criminal conspiracy.”

Pages 742 and 808 of the judgement that became public on June 17 discuss and discard the charge of conspiracy. The judge observes that the mob gathered between 9 am to 1-2 pm had no murderous intent; it is only after the private firing by former parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri that it turned malignant when “several members of the majority community had been injured and one/two even died because of the private firing.”
Evidence, all from the depositions and documents placed before the trial court, however, shows that a mob armed with stones, guptis (swords), even burning rags had started its antics in the Meghaninagar area where Gulberg Society lies. The testimonies of over 35 severely injured survivors, of which an overwhelming majority were badly injured under attack (attaching even more significance to their testimonials), as also five police witnesses, Nathusinh Naharsingh Chauhan (PW 2), Pradipsinh Shaitansinh Rathod (PW 28), Dhananjay Bhaskarrao Bhagwat (PW 29), Dharmabhai Ramjibhai Bodat (PW 30), Bhupendrasinh Karansinh Sisodia (PW 305) have confirmed this and added that at least one of the accused was spotted with a knife. This was in the morning.
By 10.30 am persons from the mob slashed the arm of Aiyub Cyclewala (Ankur Cycle shop), and broke apart the rickshaw of Gulam Master and also started attacking the chawls, Dr Gandhi’s Chawl, New Chawl, Hasan Jivabhai’s Chawl, Ghee’s Chawl, Satontookbehn’s Chawl in the area, selectively targeting homes and shops belonging to the minority. Police witnesses have put the mob as large as 4,500-5,000, injured eye-witnesses at 15,000 strong. This is all part of the evidence. That the mob had declared its murderous intent and some members were shouting slogans like “Miyaon ne kapo, maro,” (cut and kill the Muslims), is also on record.
There is more. Three police witnesses, Arvindsinh Shankarsinh Waghela (PW 7), Dhanesing Becharsing Kumpawat (PW 13) and Natwarji Javanji Bhati (PW 269) have testified that joint commissioner of police, M.K. Tandon, came with a striking force vehicle that was fully equipped to disperse crowds, but he left (inexplicably) not only without ordering action on the fast gathering violent mob but did not even leave the well equipped vehicle with arms behind.
“Tandon saheb left the place due to a reason known to him without giving any order”, they have stated. This evidence finds no mention in the section discarding conspiracy. This was around 10.30 am. These and other strong points were rigorously argued by the advocates for the survivors. Evidence showed also that there was only perfunctory firing by the policemen present between 12 to 2 pm, allowing the mob gathered to execute its dire acts more successfully.
There are also the phone call records, placed before the court that have assumed the status of a “hot potato” that few want to touch or peel. They point to a wider knowledge of the massacres executed in broad daylight. An analysis of the CDs made available by former IPS officer, then DCP Crime, Rahul Sharma, reveal a total of 15 calls that day received and made by Pande with different officials from the chief minister’s office (CMO), the first telephonic exchange beginning as early as 11.14 am.
Of a total of 302 calls received and made on his mobile by Pande on February 28, he spoke several times to his boss, DGP K. Chakravarthi and eight times to Jt CP Jha but called DCP P.B. Gondia (responsible for the jurisdictions of Naroda and Gulberg) only twice, that too after the worst was over (15:16:12 hrs and 15:54:39 hrs).
Despite the proximity of the commissioner’s office, records show that curfew was not declared in the Meghaninagar area till as late as 12.54 pm, an act (delayed declaration of curfew) for which officials of the ranks of police commissioner and additional police commissioner are normally held responsible.
At least four eyewitnesses from Gulberg have testified that the high-level conspiracy behind the Gulberg massacre went beyond the bestiality of the mob attack and extended to destroying evidence: Around 5.30 pm on February 28, when they were being rescued by the police, two survivors pleaded to be allowed to take the bodies of their near and dear ones, killed and lying out in the open, with them. “You look after yourself, we’ll take care of the dead,” Tandon had reportedly told them.
The site panchnamas reveal how the embers were allowed to burn, undoused, at Gulberg Society, for three days after the attack, ensuring that any forensic evidence behind the killings was destroyed. When survivors buried the charred remains of their loved ones at the Kalandari Masjid Kabrastan on March 2 and 3, 2002, these bodies had been reduced to ashes.
These and other nuggets of substantive circumstantial and documentary evidence appear to have been overlooked in a judgement that shows little empathy for the 69 lives so brutally lost to the fires of a hate driven politics. The telltale line appears on pages 778-779 of the 1345-page judgement: “… No material has been considered even prima facie worthwhile to arraign such senior police officer and government officials and politicians in power as accused in a
number of proceedings including the present proceedings and in my opinion, therefore, it would be unsafe and improper to even have a further discussion on this aspect. The controversy in my opinion, has been laid to rest and is required to be given its due burial.”
Herein lies the real story behind the disappointing verdict. The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) assigned with both investigating and prosecuting these trials chose not to press hard enough to establish the charge of criminal conspiracy in the Gulberg trial, never mind the availability of sustainable evidence. Their eye is trained on the Zakia Jafri case — now pending arguments in the Gujarat High Court; a case that makes out arguments of a statewide criminal conspiracy behind the happenings of 2002.
If, in the Gulberg trial, the SIT had pressed for the charges of conspiracy as evidence demanded, it would have made the arguments for Zakia Jafri in the high court that much easier. By making a weak argument on conspiracy, as judge P.B. Desai often observes, the SIT’s investigation into the Gulberg trial, nevertheless gets established as less than
The writer is a journalist and secretary Citizens for Justice and Peace, an organisation that has been providing legal aid to the survivors of 2002

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Muslim women and some challenges NIKHATH FATHIMA SUHAIL - The Hindu

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Muslim women and some challenges

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crime, law and justice


The age of ignorance is long past; the age of reasoning is here

To constantly blame the scriptures for the injustices that have permeated though the ages is unfair. Knowledge and perception should play the role of the alleviator in such contexts.

Triple Talaq and its incorrect usage by both sexes once again seem to have opened the Pandora’s box of the subject of a Uniform Civil Code and the state’s disregard for Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

How does the southern part of India handle this hullabaloo? It doesn’t do it very well. The society or community we belong to does it for us — automatically. The shores of Tamil Nadu are testimony to the powers of Kannagi, and in the present times, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. We have amidst us products of learning, from the convents of the nuns who spread the need to be educated and approach all things including faith with due reason, and from the thousands of pallisat mosques, temples and village schools, which teach the wisdom of Thiruvalluvar and the courage of Bharatiar. Be it a Mallika Srinivasan, a Preetha Reddy or a stalwart like the late Fathima Akhtar, standards have been set for success in various fields, be they political, medical, educational or service to society at large.

Women in general face pretty much the same issues: gender discrimination, being taken for granted, and having to prove constantly that they have their place in the fields they choose to be a part of. Islam gives women all rights necessary for a dignified living; it also gives them the right to leave a marriage that is not conducive to her. In Islam, there is no pathi parmeshwar; neither is there a need to placate the greed for dowry. The fact that women perpetrate these malpractices as mothers and mothers-in-law, or simply fall prey to age-old practices of ritualistic traditions, is their own folly.

Taken in this context, the Muslim women of Tamil Nadu, and in particular Chennai, face all the very same challenges that other women do. There is the need to address their right to be educated, to progress and be counted as citizens in the process of policy-making. To shed the burden of eons of gender prejudice is a struggle that women face almost every day. As long as she pays obeisance to man, she is regarded as safe!

Child abuse, marital abuse and other forms of violence the people of Tamil Nadu handle with the same sense of diligence and attention for all communities within the State. The land of Periyaar does not shy away from neighbourly deeds; every neighbourhood becomes the vanguard of its dwellers. One need not belong to a particular religion for the neighbour to pick up a phone and call the authorities to warn them of wrongs happening in their locality, or simply come over in numbers and challenge the wrongdoer. Secrecy exists mostly in the upper echelons where abuse and wrongdoing are beautifully veiled in the sophistication of luxury and wealth.

Present patterns of family discord have strong connections to liquor, and Tamil Nadu has its fair share of this misery. It is mind-boggling how such a clear directive principle of state policy of our Constitution is completely sidelined. Liquor has wreaked havoc with lives and ruined many a home. Men have become addicts and there is a growing dependence on freebies — the panacea for political parties that want to stay in power. There is a palpable imbalance in that earning the hard way seems to be a thing of the past. There is more free time for the vices that corruption and laziness bring. Those women who face the added difficulty of having their men addicted to liquor only find that their struggle never gets a breather. Here, Talaq pales in comparison to the trauma of what alcohol and drunkenness inflict, on such a large scale. Why should Article 47 of the Constitution be ignored? Why don’t those who lobby for women’s justice stand for a ban on liquor consumption? There are lobbies and there are lobbies... One wonders at the justice of it all!

In terms of finances, inheritance is still not given to many women where it is their due, be it a Hindu woman or a Muslim woman. Their right to work in family owned businesses is usually usurped among the richer classes. The same fight for justice goes on in all the communities. In the middle and lower middle income category where women earn and take care of the family with little or no help from the male counterpart, the financial burden is overwhelming. Women seem to have accepted the role of being the one who must compromise, and they continue juggling various responsibilities. Raising a family, and being balanced and honest individuals and upright citizens, become challenges. The achievement of her children’s education and dreams take prime slots in her book of goals. Ensuringkhana, kapada and makaan leave little energy for any detailed understanding of the scriptures, whichever the text.

Muslims of Tamil Nadu have always felt Tamil in their veins, mostly because they are children of the soil and partly because of the weaving in of religions and communities so effectively. The beauty of ‘live and let live’ seems to give rise to the need to exist in solidarity within the tolerant and vibrant colours of the State’s secular history.

There is a Jamaath active in almost all neighbourhoods here. The TMMK, the TNTJ, the JIH, the Tableegh Jamath and the Jamiath Ahle Hadeeth are active in locales where their mosques allow them to reach out as guidance counsellors to the families they oversee. Here, the practice of triple Talaq is not encouraged. There are the usual misunderstandings, the age-old problems of mothers-in-law staking their claims, the daughters-in-law being unsoliciting of intrusive relatives, and wives who will not rest with what she has but needs more each day. The counsellors of the various mosques have so far done a fabulous job putting together families as opposed to allowing women to be wronged.

From Kannyakumari to Chennai, Erode to Karaikal, ‘Triple Talaq’ is rare, and if the practice does exist, it is dogma that is politically connected to the survival of a few who believe in ensuring a blind following without reason. Here, the Koran and the Hadeeth hold fort above the diktats of any other. Sharia is prime. The very nature of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was inclusive of all four schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence, and on that very premise, the south will choose reason and sense over blind allegiance. In most places, triple Talaq may be pronounced as three but is (most often) considered as one. Mediation occurs and reconciliation thereafter. One doesn’t really bother if life can be simpler, problems are solved and hearts mended.

The AIMPLB, on its part, has made provisions in the contract of nikah, bringing about clauses that will in circumstances of strife, benefit women, in the Nikah-Nama booklet it has printed: a ‘pre-nup’ in many ways, being advocated all across India. To educate 180 million Muslims the Board will need coordinated planning and networking from the four corners of the nation. Stringent measures must be put in place to protect the rights of women and, where they are divorced, their walis or guardians must be checked upon. The South is already liberal in adopting the fiqh (jurisprudence) that is suited to the people. In many Muslim countries that follow the Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali fiqh, triple Talaq is banned. Here one realises the benefit of Islam’s flexibility.

Where the husband chooses to rid himself of executing responsibilities completely, he will walk away from the commitment of marriage, with or without Talaq. These individuals are to be commonly found. The reasons can be psychological, mental, physical and financial. There could be lack of commitment, or simply the need to disregard those bound to him. This malaise actually afflicts all communities, irrespective of religion.

In general, the institution of marriage itself is in danger. Live-in relationships are becoming commonly accepted in a society where marriage was once regarded as sacred. Extra-marital affairs do not help, and the tacit acceptance of such concepts is hardly shocking to the Tamil mind today. Divorce rates have risen all over India. Muslim divorces may be the least in comparison with other co-existing faiths. Family values, sacrifices, sharing and caring within the framework of marriage have taken on a very convoluted understanding of late.

Tamil Nadu is home to the Hanafi, the Shafi and the Ahle Hadith. The Ahle Hadith are those who follow all four jurists, namely Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. To them the easier path will be the one they choose. In matters of Talaq, Maliki fiqh is adhered to. What does happen is that even if three Talaqs are pronounced, it is the equivalent of a single Talaq and there is a chance to marry by making nikah and resuming life where they left off. The Halaalah does not figure in here, at this juncture. 

Making life less complicated, is what fiqh or jurisprudence does!

Hanafi fathers bring their daughters to Ahle Hadeeth scholars to receive a ruling that will allow their sons-in-law a second chance to make the marriage work. Here, Talaq will come under the Koranic injunction.

Tamil Nadu is simply literate, and therefore is an amalgam of the best.

Under Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali Jurisprudence, Talaq is done as per the Koran and clear verses are given thereunder. The 12 beautiful verses of the sixty-fifth chapter named ‘Talaq’ have elucidated the process and warned of the wrath of the Creator upon those who choose to take justice lightly. Alimony is her right and the provision for her child or children is obligatory. Verse 6 of this chapter clearly commands a home for the divorced woman as per the man’s means, where she may dwell in comfort and dignity. Islam will always stand for justice.

On the other hand, triple Talaq, which is being blown out of proportion as an issue, can actually be a boon to many an abused woman. There have been cases where the mother walks into her chamber only to find that the man she married is either molesting or raping her daughter. Cases of abuse have been reported where step-fathers malign the trust reposed in them. And in some cases, even perverted fathers have done the same. Will this mother ever want to have anything to do with such a husband?

Incidents where the husband returns from a long sojourn abroad, where he would have braved difficult conditions in order to ensure the family’s sustenance, only to walk into an unpleasant situation of having to witness his wife with another man, are also not uncommon. Where there is clear evidence of the woman having chosen to be unfaithful to the trust that marriage demands, there is no room for mediation. Infidelity is as old as relationships itself. Triple Talaq here will only annul that marriage, which the wife has chosen to do herself.

The essence of triple Talaq is that it is allowed under extraneous circumstances and is not the norm. To go on harping on triple Talaq as though it is the monster that breaks marriages and oppresses women, is ridiculous. Men and women who simply do not agree to live together break marriages. Good riddance to wife-beaters, abusers and sick-minded losers who value their women so little, that they pick up the phone in a cowardly manner and walk away with a ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’.

If this is the tool the right wing will use to implement a Uniform Civil Code and thereafter perpetuate one ideology, annihilating in its path the vibrant pluralism of India, then let us bid adieu to the secularism our great nation was founded on, the freedom we so rightly earned and the sagacity of our coexistence.

(The author is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. E-mail:

Keywords: TalaqMuslimswomen's justice

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkered - By Flavia Agnes - MAJLIS


This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkered

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan is making no effort to address wider concerns faced by triple talaq victims, like domestic abuse and economic deprivation.

This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkeredImage credit:  Photo credit: BMMA
Jun 20, 2016 · 12:30 pm  
6.5K Total views
As part of its campaign against triple talaq, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has been circulating short personal stories of women on social media in a series titled “3 Seconds Divorce”. One story is posted for every day of the month of Ramzan to remind religious members of the Muslim community of the need to ban instant triple talaq to secure the dignity of the affected women.
Among the eight women whose stories have been posted so far, the first is from Mumbai, the next four are from Tamil Nadu, one is from Rajasthan and the last from Maharashtra.
Most of the women were married young. Their literacy levels are not known but the fact that they have little earning skills is apparent. These hard-hitting narratives of these women rooted in their socio-economic context of poverty and destitution are authenticated with photographs and names. They end with a one-point agenda in support of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan campaign – ban triple talaq.
Address wider concerns too
I find the rigour and singular focus with which the andolan has pursued its cause and gained public support both from the media and progressive Muslims commendable.
But my point of discomfort is that while the narratives provide a socio-economic context of the women’s lives, and suggest that these are the root cause of their misery, there is a disconnect.
There seems to be no effort to address these wider concerns. The women do not seek any other mechanism for redressing the acute domestic violence, economic deprivation, desertion, extra-marital affairs of their husbands. All they desire is a ban on triple talaq, as if it is a magic wand that will end the multiple issues that are causing misery in their lives.
These women are entitled to legal remedies and protections within their marriage and upon divorce. However in these stories, and throughout its campaign, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has consistently ignored this. The framing of these stories makes me wonder if this is a deliberate manipulation of these women’s personal miseries to suit the agenda of the andolan.
I find the first story of Mumbai-based Rubina Sheikh, 32, most tragic. As her husband had deserted her, she wanted maintenance. She approached the Andolan’s Aurat ki Shariah Adalat, or women’s court, in 2015. She did not approach the family court in Mumbai or the magistrate’s court to secure her right to maintenance.
In her own words:
“[The] adalat called him for reconciliation. While negotiations were still going on, he orally pronounced talaq three times and walked off. The adalat did not accept the divorce and pressurised him to pay maintenance. My husband said he had divorced me because he did not want to stay with me and wanted to marry another woman. He remarried after giving divorce to me.”
No legal standing
Here the use of the word adalat itself is a manipulation. Anyone reading it may think it is a formal court or at least a recognised sharia court or a qazi court – which also does not have the power of a civil court but there is an acceptance of these courts within the Muslim community – but this is neither.
It is an NGO devoid of any power or authority to enforce its orders, yet the name Aurat ki Shariah Adalat conveys the impression that it is a formal sharia court, vested with authority. The adalat is similar to thousands of counselling centres run by NGOs, which offer “counselling and reconciliation” either in their own offices or in police stations. But rather unfortunately, Islamic scholars such as Zeenat Shoukat Ali seem to endorse this illegal practice.
If the woman wanted maintenance all she needed to do was to file an application in the magistrate’s court under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and secure orders which are enforceable.
The story also shatters two more myths which the andolan propagates – of Muslim polygamy and that a Muslim woman has no rights after talaq.
Sheikh states that her husband gives her Rs 5,000 a month as maintenance but he is in a position to give more as he is working in Qatar and her children are studying in an English medium school. The so-called adalat is still negotiating with him to increase her maintenance. This refutes the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan claim that after pronouncing talaq the woman is not entitled to any maintenance from her husband. So I fail to understand whether Sheikh’s need is to a higher amount of maintenance, or a ban on triple talaq. Secondly, remarriage after divorce is not polygamy.
In these stories, one can identify the socio-economic barriers that are faced by women in broken marriages across communities.
Why only triple talaq?
The question then is: what has the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan done to spread awareness among Muslim women for self reliance through skill training, job opportunities or avenues of private entrepreneurship so that they have something to fall back on if the dreaded sword of triple talaq falls on them?
One can argue that this is not the Andolan’s core activity and they are a rights-based or a campaign-based group. So then why did none of the women, with the Andolan’s help, challenge the un-Islamic triple talaq in a court of law, and secure their rights of maintenance and residence under the Domestic Violence Act?
It is indeed sad that to score a point on triple talaq, the andolan deliberately does not refer cases to Majlis – where we deal with thousands of women, both Hindu and Muslim, facing similar problems – or to any other women’s rights lawyer in the vicinity, but decides put out the negative story to score a point.
Our office is situated just about three bus stops away from the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan office and we have addressed many meetings organised by the andolan and also provided legal support to the women who approach that organisation. But now, the andolan does not refer Muslim women in need of legal interventions to Majlis, and instead decides the cases in the Aurat ki Shariah Adalat, set up by them, even if it ends in the denial of crucial rights to the concerned woman.
Would this not amount to the deliberate manipulation of a woman’s misery to create a negative story?
Flavia Agnes is the co-founder of Majlis, a forum for women's rights discourse and legal initiatives.
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