Updated: February 7, 2018 7:27:42 am
SOFIA AHMED (24), a commerce graduate and a victim of instant triple talaq, was in Lucknow on Tuesday afternoon when she received calls from mediapersons who congratulated her for being inducted into the Uttar Pradesh minority commission. Sofia, who joined BJP in December 2016, said the calls left her surprised. “I never applied for the appointment. Also, no one from the government or BJP approached me. I was surprised when mediapersons wished me for the induction,” she told The Indian Express.
The mediapersons then forwarded her the government order issued on Tuesday by the Minority Welfare department on constitution of the commission and her induction as a member. But the order was in Hindi, which Sofia cannot read. She then spoke to BJP leaders in Lucknow and Kanpur, who confirmed that she had been appointed. According to BJP sources, Sofia was inducted into the commission because she is a victim of triple talaq and the party wants to show its commitment to help victims of the practice.
Sofia said she married the brother of a Samajwadi Party leader in June 2015 and started living at Kanpur. She said that her husband, in a drunken state, divorced her by uttering talaq thrice the next year and drove her out in the middle of the night, their 40-day-old baby in her arms. Sofia then started staying at a flat in Kanpur that her mother had gifted her. “Then I started social work. Some people told me that BJP had launched a campaign against triple talaq. That motivated me and I joined the party in Kanpur in December 2016, four months after I was driven out. Last year, I met state women welfare minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi with some other triple talaq victims,” said Sofia, adding that she has never met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath or state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey. “I don’t know what my duties and rights as member of the commission will be. But I will work for triple talaq victims,” she said.
While officials in minority welfare department denied comment, state minority welfare minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said, “How could it be that she was not aware of her appointment. I will have to confirm about it.” State BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said, “She is a victim of triple talaq and has worked actively for other victims. The Yogi Adityanath government is committed to protecting rights and honour of women from all communities.” He said no applications are invited for such appointments and selections are done by the government.
State president of BJP’s minority wing Haider Abbas Chand said he did not have information about Sofia, but added, “It is only in BJP that such little-known dedicated workers can rise.” Former national president of BJP’s minority wing Mohd Tanveer Haider Usmani has been appointed chairperson of the commission. Sofia is among eight members appointed on Tuesday, the others being former BJP Meerut Mahanagar president Suresh Jain, former state vice-president of minority morcha Sukhdarshan Bedi, former Braj region secretary Manoj Kumar Maseeh, former state party executive member Kunwar Sayed Iqbal Haider, BJP leader from Ghaziabad Kunwar Afzal Chaudhary, former minority morcha state presidents Mohd Aslam and Rumana Siddiqui.
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