BJP’s ‘Concern’ with Muslim Women, Some Questions

Courtesy: Indian Express

Why do not we initiate a Uniform Religion Code (URC), that will ensure human justice, which is pre-requisite of gender justice?

Before the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, there was no indication in the election campaign of the Prime Ministerial candidate—Narendra Modi– that the Muslim question that remained its agenda for long will be brought into play in so many ways after coming to power.
Within no time, after t the Party came to power Article 370, resettlement of Kashmiri pundits back in Kashmir and the beef food bogey became major issues. The cow protection issue has haunted the Muslims for decades, now. The beef ban in many BJP ruled states put them not only in a permanent fear of food security, but many of them actually lost livelihoods, small businesses around cattle, meat, leather and bone sales and purchases. Unemployment among them has gone up to unknown heights. The lynching of Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh created a frightening reality situation for Muslims all over India.

I have been working in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University(MANUU), Hyderabad, for about six years, now. Here Muslim men and women constitute the main body of teaching faculty, non teaching staff and student community, as the Urdu language has been only nurtured by Muslims after independence. Even in the Nizam ruled region, where persons from every other community learnt Urdu, the others no longer hold on to Urdu.
The Reddy and Velama Zamindars who used to read and write in Urdu have given up on this rich language. From around this region, it is only Muslims who have sustained, what they call the Urdu Zuban. So my interaction in this university is with the Urdu speaking Muslim community.

The Muslim men and women who work in this university live with diverse dress codes, life styles, hair styles. There are women who wear modern dress, maintain other modes of body style and drive their own cars. Even in a large university like Osmania University I have not seen so many women driving their own cars, and working so late into the night. But they do that in MANUU. A woman professor worked as registrar. A burkha clad woman professor worked as provost of the hostels of both boys and girls for a long time. She has also contested the elections for the presidentship of MANUUTA.
In Osmania where there are more women teachers who are mainly Hindu, there was never one who took up the job of provost, as it involves, at times, late night duty. In the neighbouring Hyderabad Central University there are more women staff members (mainly from upper castes), some even educated abroad. But no woman has ever taken up that job.

Some Muslim girl students in MANUU even cover their whole face, except eyes, but they study well. There are men who always live in their traditional dress and have beards, wear the sherwani, pyjama and so on. I know two very conservative looking persons—one woman and a man—but their expertise in computer operation is un-matched. There are also Muslim men who wear more modern dresses than men of other communities. I tried to find out whether there are any polygamous men among teaching and non-teaching men. Hardly anybody. But I know that there are divorced women. But they remain quite confident and professional.

Before the BJP came to power the discussion on the campus used to be around the educational advancement/development of the Muslim community, their employment and the kind of poverty that Muslims people suffer from. That was also the period in which Sachar Committee Report was in every Muslim intellectual’s—man or woman—mind.
Now I see only more fear and silence among them. Why?

The Kashmir crisis has deepened after the election. Blood is flowing there on an everyday basis. After the Uri incident every Muslim began to be suspected he/she, of being a Pakistan agent. After the ‘surgical strikes operation’, local celebrations were not because the terrorist dens on the border had been attacked; in almost every city and locality the celebrations had turned inward, against every Indian Muslim.

‘They have been taught a lesson’ was the prevailing mood. This message was sent quite conspicuously and consciously by the sweet distributing squads.

The sudden discovery that every Muslim woman was or is a victim of ‘Triple Talaq’ and the feigned urgency to bring about a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to save Muslim women has scared the community even more. The case of one Muslim woman pending in the Supreme Court has been highlighted and being projected as if every Muslim woman is or has been facing Triple Talaq and that the UCC is the solution. It is not insignificant that this discourse has become dominant after the BJP came to power

Now the discussion among the community,  when they speak in small groups, lunch meetings, ‘chai pe churcha’ is not about their ‘Vikas’ but about their ‘Fear’. The women teachers and non-teachers I talk to say that these are not our major problems. They say ’Our major problem are education in English and Urdu, jobs in the market. They further say ‘safety in the general society not just in the Muslim society’ is our need or requirement.

I see many of them feeling lost in the present situation. They are lost because Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Chairperson of National Women’s Commission and all other ruling Hindu women keep telling the nation that they are worried about the divorced Muslim women more than the Dalit women getting raped on a daily basis. They are also not at all worried about the young and old Hindu widows living a pre-Rajarammohan Roy life in a rat hole called Brindavan.

Every Muslim man feels that the Hindutva brigade treats them as if they are the soldiers on the other side of LOC fighting for Pakistan. Why has the situation changed so significantly after 2014 elections and so drastically? In the leading TV shops (shows) every Muslim man is setereotyped and shown as buying—particularly in some English TV shops—bombs and guns. Every Muslim woman is selling Talaq certificate and begging for protection from her cruel husband?
Why were not these the images of a reality before the 2014 elections? Do Muslim women of India need the Hindu Vijaya Mallyas and Christian Donald Trumps to protect them from Triple Talaqs and bad husband?

There is another campaign at large during the morning walks, lazy chai shops or Yoga training centers that the Hindutva brigade’s old and young men are on the walk the talk —Islam has destroyed Bharat. Now many of them use the Muslim designated name of the nation—‘Hindustan’ in danger. Unfortunately in all Muslim meetings this is the name they also use for this nation without knowing that this can be a source of the amendment to the Constitution that its existing name India—the Bharat, should be changed to Hindustan.

For decades Muslim politicians and intellectuals were self-destructive and now appear to have they lost all courage to combat these forces who are actually on a mission of ‘’khoon pe charcha’’. The Muslim intellectuals for long were busy with secular “coffee pe churcha” when their community was facing the music of ‘khoon pe churcha”. They never even wanted to talk about abolition of Untouchability, or permanent widowhood in Hindu society. They thought that it would hurt the Hindu sentiments.

It was actually the Muslim Irani hotels that initiated the culture of common drinking and eating culture in India. Hyderabad would provide you any number of examples where the Brahmin Bhojan Coffee hotels did not allow anybody except the Brahmins to eat and drink inside. In the spiritual domain the Muslim Durghas allowed all castes to touch and worship when no Hindu temple was allowing the Dalits and OBCs.
Even now they do not want to make a law that all spiritual places—Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh—to ban caste practices.
Why do not we initiate a Uniform Religion Code (URC), that will ensure human justice, which is pre-requisite of gender justice?




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