Vote bank politics behind targeting Muslim Law, mosques: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind leaders

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Anwarulhaq Baig

New Delhi–Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) leaders have stated that attempts are being made to gain electoral advantage by polarizing the population through actions that offend Muslims, such as interfering with Muslim personal law under the guise of a uniform civil code, repealing the Muslim Marriage Act, and threatening Muslim places of worship.

In a monthly briefing held today at the JIH headquarters, leaders addressed a range of pressing issues, from regional interference in Muslim Personal Law to farmers’ demands, value-based politics, protection of places of worship, the situation in Gaza, the closure of Maulana Azad Education Foundation, and alarming custodial rape statistics.

Assam and Uttarakhand’s Interference in Muslim Personal Law:

Expressing deep concern, JIH Vice President Malik Motasim Khan criticized the Assam government’s decision to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act of 1935. He said this Act allowed government-authorized Qazis (Muslim jurists) to register Muslim marriages and divorces. By requiring Muslims to now register under the Special Marriage Act of 1954, the state government has taken an “Islamophobic” stance aimed at polarizing people before elections, he alleged.

Experts suggest the move could lead to a lack of regulation and documentation of Muslim marriages. With unregistered marriages, women may lose marital rights and social protection in case of divorce or abandonment. The government claims this fights child marriage, but Mr. Khan believes it is “crude vote-bank politics.”

Mr. Khan also criticized Uttarakhand’s plans to implement a uniform civil code (UCC), which would replace distinct personal laws with a single set applying to all citizens regardless of religion. Proposals include banning polygamy and triple talaq, equal inheritance rights, and compulsory registration of live-in relationships. While Article 44 mentions a UCC, the Constitution leaves it to governments to implement it. No government can unilaterally enforce anything on a religious community without consultation, especially regarding religious laws, Mr. Khan emphasized. He views these actions against Muslims as attempts by ruling party leaders and chief ministers to boost their political standing, but such tactics ultimately undermine democracy.

Farmers’ Demands and Protests:

Throwing his strong support behind farmers’ demands for a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP), JIH Vice President Prof. Salim Engineer called for the inclusion of all crops under MSP, computed according to the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations. Prof. Salim condemned police actions against protesting farmers, highlighting reports of fatalities due to tear gas usage and the cancellation of passports and visas. The government, he said, should avoid rigidity and find long-lasting solutions to farm distress from resource scarcity, climate change, falling water tables, and socio-economic upheaval.

Call for Value-Based Politics:

Lamenting the complete collapse of ethics in politics, Prof. Salim highlighted recent Rajya Sabha elections with rampant horse-trading allegations. In Himachal Pradesh, for instance, reports suggest police kidnapped MLAs to safe locations in CRPF vehicles so they vote against party lines. Defections and MLAs lured to bring down governments, as happened in Maharashtra and Bihar, are now common, eroding public trust in elected leaders.

Expressing distress over the erosion of value-based politics, Prof. Salim highlighted the need for ethical standards in politics, emphasizing that elected officials should maintain the public’s trust.

Value-based politics alone can promote harmony, ensure justice and equality, and uphold constitutional principles, Prof. Salim stated. “We must curb unrestrained money power fueling opportunism bereft of vision or ideology at the cost of democratic ethics. Hence, JIH advises people to elect candidates with good character, image, and no criminal or communal history. This will nurture principled politics, essential for Indian democracy now,” he added.

Situation in Gaza:

Prof. Salim raised alarm over the deteriorating situation in Gaza, where an estimated 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, 70,000 injured, and 85% of the population displaced. He demanded an immediate and permanent ceasefire, coupled with international prosecution for Israeli political and military leaders for war crimes. Prof. Salim urged the Government of India to play a role in bringing peace to the region and facilitating humanitarian aid.

Closure of Maulana Azad Education Foundation:

Expressing resentment over closing the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF), Prof. Salim pointed out it had Rs. 669 crore surplus Heven after meeting Rs. 403 crore in liabilities from a corpus of Rs. 1,073 crore as of November 2023. Yet, he said, the Ministry of Minority Affairs decided to transfer the surplus to the Consolidated Fund of India rather than minority education. This locks Muslims in economic marginalization and educational backwardness, necessitating affirmative action like scholarships and free coaching.” Shutting MAEF amidst such needs negates the government’s constitutional duty for minority upliftment, Prof. Salim criticized. He argued that this move is detrimental to the educational growth of Muslims in India and goes against the principles of affirmative action recommended by committees like Sachar and Mehmood-Ur-Rehman. Prof. Salim called on the government to fulfill its constitutional obligation to uplift minority communities.

Protection of Muslim Places of Worship:

JIH Assistant Secretary Inamurahman expressed concerns about the safety and protection of Muslim places of worship, including mosques, tombs, madrassas, graveyards, and other Waqf properties. He highlighted several instances in which such places faced threats, citing examples such as the DDA’s attempt to demolish the historical Senheri Bagh Masjid in Delhi’s Lutyens zone, the Kangal Shah Masjid in Dhaula Kuan, and the demolition of the 800-year-old Akhondji Mosque and Madrasa in South Delhi’s Mehrauli area, despite their cases being sub judice. He demanded that contempt of court be initiated against responsible officials and authorities in cases where the demolition or disruption of places of worship is attempted despite ongoing gal proceedings.

Inamurahman stated that historical mosques have been targeted due to claims of causing traffic problems or being unauthorized structures, or raising communal issues. He highlighted biased administration, government, media, and even the judiciary have allowed unauthorized activities within mosque premises in some cases.

Inamurahman also cited the Supreme Court verdict in the Babri Masjid case. While the Court awarded the disputed Babri Masjid site to the Hindu side, it explicitly declared that no future claims could be entertained regarding existing Muslim places of worship. This decision reinforces the continued application of the Places of Worship Act 1991, which guarantees the preservation of the religious character of places of worship as they existed on August 15th, 1947.

The JIH official emphasized the need to adhere to the Places of Worship Act 1991, which guarantees the preservation of the religious character of places of worship as they existed on August 15th, 1947. Inamurahman urged the Government of India and the judiciary to uphold this act to prevent chaos and anarchy. He warned that politicizing emotions and “reversing history for vote banks” would only create mayhem. He concluded by appealing to the people to defeat such “communal politics.”

Custodial Rape Statistics:

JIH National Secretary for Women, Mrs. Rahmathunnisa, expressed deep concern over the alarming custodial rape statistics revealed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). She called for a victim-centric approach, strengthened legal frameworks, and institutional reforms to address the root causes effectively. Beyond strong laws and punishment, society requires moral reform and “fear of God,”

Mrs. Rahmathunnisa stressed. “Inculcating values and accountability here and in the hereafter through school curriculum revisions and moral education can help curb sexual crimes. But comprehensive action on behavioral change, legal improvements, and robust monitoring are equally pressing.”

The JIH leaders called for ethical governance, adherence to constitutional principles, and international intervention to ensure peace in Gaza.

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