Interpreting the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court against the practice of triple talaq as a “conspiracy” to implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Muslim organisations, led by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Thursday slammed the government for “creating discord” between communities, saying the UCC was against the very Constitution of India. Responding to the AIMPLB’s charges, leaders of the BJP maintained that the UCC and triple talaq were disparate issues and should in no way be treated as extensions of one another.
Maulana Wali Rehmani, general secretary of AIMPLB, told reporters in New Delhi: “The Constitution of India is the binding agreement that India has with every citizen of the country. Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees religious freedom — it is what keeps the country united. It is wrong, inappropriate of the government to try to govern the entire country with one stick.”
“It seems that the Modi government is using UCC as a ruse to divert attention from its failures of the last 30 months. It is a new war the government is waging. Sarhad to sambhal nahin rahi, andarooni jung ki taiyyari kar rahein hain (They cannot protect the borders but are preparing for internal strife),” Rehmani alleged, announcing that Muslim organisations will protest through democratic means across the country.
He said Muslims would boycott the questionnaire issued by the Law Commission on anti-women practices in all religions and the AIMPLB would instead issue its own questionnaire to “reflect the real mood” in the country on personal laws.
The Law Commission, Rehmani said, was acting as an organ of the government rather than an autonomous institution.
Representatives of different Muslim organisations and institutions, including the Jamiat Ulama i Hind and Darul Uloom Deoband, used the platform to announce countrywide protests against the UCC but refused to answer queries on the issue of triple talaq. The AIMPLB’s position, they said, had already been clarified in an affidavit in the highest court.
Rehmani claimed that census data showed there was more polygamy among Hindus than Muslims and more divorces too. He named a Jharkhand politician to make his case. “The intentions of this government are suspect. They are trying to create strife in the name of unity,” Jamiat Ulama i Hind president Arshad Madani said.
Asked about his opposition to the UCC, perceived as a tool to stop gender discrimination, Rehmani slammed the Prime Minister and went on to cite the example of United States where personal laws for religions were separate. He said this government could may as well take lessons from America.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya dismissed the AIMPLB accusations, saying that the Board should instead focus on the divorced Muslim women who have approached the court over triple talaq.
“We do not need any certificate from them but it is wrong to cast personal aspersions, especially when the Prime Minister’s post has its own dignity. The Board should talk to divorced Muslim women who approached the court. The court had asked for the government’s view and it was given. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of all women. There is currently no work on UCC,” Vijayvargiya said.
Another BJP office-bearer said the government stand was taken on the basis of the Constitution and its commitment to gender equality. The Law Commission questionnaire, the office-bearer said, was part of an initiative to collect stakeholder feedback and the findings would be placed in the Supreme Court.