NEW DELHI—The Vice-President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Professor Salim Engineer, Jamaat National Secretary Maulana Shafi Madani, Jamaat National Media Secretary KK Sohail, and Assistant Secretary Media addressed the monthly press conference held at Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s headquarters today. Some burning issues of the country were discussed in the conference. These included topics such as the Unresolved Manipur crisis, New Criminal Laws that will replace IPC, CrPC and the Evidence Act, the Data Protection Bill, Islamophobia in Indian educational institutions, the G20 Summit in New Delhi, and the Himachal environmental catastrophes. A brief summary of the issues discussed by the Jamaat leadership is as follows:
New Criminal Laws that will replace IPC, CrPC, and the Evidence Act
The government has introduced three new bills in the Lok Sabha aiming to improve India’s criminal justice system. The bills will replace the IPC, CrPC and the Evidence Act. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has serious concerns around these bills and feels that the amendments are not in tune with the global trends in criminal justice jurisprudence. The introduction of such comprehensive changes in a relatively short span of time without seeking public input and feedback might disturb our legal framework and cause disruption in the legal system raising challenges for law enforcement agencies, legal professionals, and the public.
One positive aspect in the bills is that for the first time capital punishment has been introduced for the offence of mob lynching apart from it being made punishable with 7 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment. The bill has a provision for ‘love jihad’, which has been defined as ‘concealing your identity before marriage’. It has been made into a separate offence and the sentence is 10 years. Jamaat feels that ‘love jihad’ is a misnomer, is deeply offensive to Muslims, and carries a derogatory reference to an important tenet of Islam. It has been coined by anti-social elements and it should not be incorporated as a legal proviso in our statute. This provision may affect Muslims disproportionately and it could be exploited to harass them.
Jamaat is of the opinion that although the new bill repeals Section 124A, of the IPC, it has made provision for punishing acts of “sedition” albeit in a new form, which is as dangerous as the old law. Jamaat feels that there was no actual need to introduce separate bills: It would have been better to simply amend the IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act to reflect the changes envisaged by the aforementioned three bills. The idea of “reforming” the criminal laws by completely rewriting them was not necessary or urgent. There is also an element of language imposition in the whole exercise. The proposed names of the three new laws are in Hindi, which is understood only by 44% of the population. 56% of the country’s people is non-Hindi.
Unresolved Manipur Crisis
A delegation of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind visited Manipur recently. The delegation was led by JIH Vice-President, Prof Salim Engineer, JIH National Secretary, Maulana Shafi Madani and Abdul Haleem Phundreimayum. Some of the findings of the delegation are as follows: there are around 65,000 people in Manipur who have been rendered homeless, many of whom are living in refugee camps. Of these 14,000 are children. 198 deaths have been recorded in the violence. It is difficult to estimate the economic loss suffered by the state so far. Manipur has been virtually divided along ethnic lines. The people of the valley cannot venture into the hilly areas and vice versa. Houses and business establishments have been either partially damaged or completely damaged by rioters based on ethnicity. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that the policies and statements made by the Manipur Chief Minister indicate his inability to transcend identity-based politics. Considering the inability of the state leadership to end the ongoing ethnic hostilities and bring about lasting peace, the Central government must intervene and encourage civil society representatives from various ethnic backgrounds to initiate genuine reconciliation and peace efforts.
Islamophobia in Indian educational institutions
The increasing incidents of Islamophobia within Indian educational institutions is worrying. Jamaat feels that The policy of silence adopted by those in the highest echelons of power and avoiding speaking against hate crimes against Muslims and acts of Islamophobia is having a detrimental effect on the social fabric of our country and it is leading to intolerance and polarization on religious lines. Jamaat feels that the fast-spreading Islamophobia in schools and college campuses should be addressed officially by the government by recognizing it as a social evil and drafting appropriate laws to end its menace. Muslims must do their utmost to reach out to the majority community and clear any misconceptions they may have regarding Muslims and Islam. Media can play an important role in sensitizing the public against Islamophobia.
G20 Summit in New Delhi
Jamaat leaders welcomes the 43 Heads of Delegation attending the final New Delhi G20 Summit in September 2023. Jamaat appreciates the theme set by India on gaining the G20 presidency: “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. India hosting the G20 highlights its growing economic influence, its strong advocacy for climate action, its strategic importance, its role in global healthcare, and becoming the voice of the Global South. We should seriously focus on improving our ranking in various indices such as Democracy Index, Human Development Index, Global Hunger Index, Global Food Security Index, Human Freedom Index, Ease of Doing Business Index, Corruption Perception Index, World Press Freedom Index, etc. The government should exert more efforts in reducing our wealth inequality, protection of its religious minorities and improving public health and education. The G20 Presidency should motivate the government to redouble its efforts towards the welfare of the common citizens.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also expressed concern over the new Data Protection Bill. Jamaat feels it will lead to increased surveillance by the government. The privacy of citizen’s data will be compromised. Jamaat also expressed concern over the Himachal environmental catastrophes.