The month of August is recognised as a “Month of Revolution, Rights & Reforms” in the Indian history; 08th August Quit India Movement, 15th August Independence Day, 19th August “World Humanitarian Day”, 20th August “Sadbhavana Diwas”, 370 was abolished on 5th August, these days have been written in golden pages of the Indian History.
1st August is a day which made Muslim women free from social evil of Triple Talaq; 1stAugust has been recorded in the country’s history as “Muslim Women Rights Day”.
Triple Talaq or Talaq-a-Biddat was neither Islamic nor legal. Despite of the fact, the social evil of Triple Talaq was given “political patronage” by “Merchants of Votes”.
1st August 2019 is a historic day in Indian Parliamentary history when The Bill against Triple Talaq was made a Law despite of obstacle put by so-called “Champions of Secularism” including Congress, Communist Party, SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress. 1st August became the day which ensured gender equality and strengthened constitutional, fundamental and democratic rights of the Muslim women and it also gave confidence to the women, which constitute almost half of the population in India. 1st August will remain as a golden moment of Indian democracy and Parliamentary history.
The law against social evil of Triple Talaq could have been passed in 1986 when the Hon’ble Supreme Court had given historic judgement in the Shahbano Case. The Congress had absolute majority in Parliament with more than 400 out of 545 Lok Sabha Members and more than 159 out of 245 Members in the Rajya Sabha. But the then Rajiv Gandhi Government used its strength in the Parliament to make the Supreme Court judgement ineffective and deprive the Muslim women of their constitutional and fundamental rights.
The then Congress Government had bowed down before illogic of some “narrow minded fanatics” and committed a criminal sin to deprive the Muslim women of their constitutional rights. The Congress’ “Mistake of the Moment” became “Punishment of the Decades” for the Muslim women. The Congress was worried for “Vote Ka Udhaar” while our government was worried for “Samajik Sudhaar”(social reform).
India runs on a Constitution, not on Shariat or any other religious textbook. Earlier, various legislations had been brought in the country to abolish social evils such as Sati Pratha and Child Marriage. Triple Talaq law has nothing to do with religion, the law has been made purely to ensure gender equality by ending a social evil, inhuman, cruel and unconstitutional practice. Instant divorce by verbally saying Talaq thrice is illegal. There were several incidents coming where women had been given Talaq through letter, phone or even through message and whatsapp. Such incidents are unacceptable to a sensitive country and to a government committed to inclusive development.
Several Muslim-majority nations of the world had declared Triple Talaq as illegal and un-Islamic much earlier. Egypt was the first Muslim nation which abolished this social evil in 1929. Sudan in 1929, Pakistan in 1956, Bangladesh in 1972, Iraq in 1959, Syria in 1953, Malaysia in 1969 had abolished the practice of Triple Talaq. Besides, countries such as Cyprus, Jordan, Algeria, Iran, Brunei, Morocco, Qatar, UAE also ended this social evil many years ago. But it took 70 years for India to get rid of this inhuman and cruel practice.
The Government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi made the law against Triple Talaq to make effective the Supreme Court’s judgement. The Supreme Court, on 18th May, 2017, had declared Triple Talaq as unconstitutional. By abolishing the Triple Talaq, the Modi Government has strengthened socio-economic, fundamental and constitutional rights of the Muslim women.
One year has passed since the law against Triple Talaq was passed and there is a decline of about 82 per cent in Triple Talaq cases thereafter. If any such case was reported, the law has taken action.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s Government is committed to empowerment of all sections and social reforms. Some political parties give illogic that why the Modi Government is worried about Talaq in Muslim women? Why the Government don’t do anything for their socio-economic-educational empowerment? I want to make it clear to those people who ask such questions that during the last about 6 years, the Modi Government has worked with inclusive empowerment for every sections including Muslim women.
The Modi Government’s efforts aimed at development of all sections have ensured welfare of Muslim women equally. During the last about 6 years, 3 crore 87 lakh Minority students have been given various scholarships which include about 60 per cent girl students. A large number of Muslim women have been provided employment and employment opportunities through “Hunar Haat”. More than 10 lakh Minority youths have been provided employment and employment opportunities through skill development schemes such as “Seekho aur Kamao”, “Garib Nawaz Swarojgar Yojna”, “Usttad”, “Nai Manzil”, “Nai Roushni” etc and more than 50 per cent beneficiaries are women.A total of 3040 women have performed Haj after the Modi Government ensured Muslim women can perform Haj without “Mehram” (male companion) in 2018. This year too, more than 2300 women had applied to perform Haj without Mehram. These women will be allowed to go to Haj 2021 on the basis of their application for Haj 2020 only. Besides, women who file new application, will also be allowed to go to Haj next year.
The Modi Government’s efforts have benefitted equally to the Muslim women. Even the Opposition and “traditional Modi bashers” cannot raise question that there has been any discrimination with any community in welfare schemes. Our efforts for inclusive empowerment have shown results on the ground. When our Government provided 2 crore houses to poor, 31 per cent beneficiaries are from Minority community. Our Government has provided electricity to a large number of villages of the country which were deprived of electricity for decades, these villages include large number of Minority community dominated villages who were in darkness and now have been provided electricity. Our Government provided benefits to 22 crore farmers under ‘’Kisan Samman Nidhi” which include more than 33 per cent farmers belonging to Minority communities. About 37 per cent of more than 8 crore beneficiaries of “Ujjwala Yojna” providing free gas connection belong to Minority communities. Our Government provided easy loans to about 24 crore people under “Mudra Yojna” for small and medium business and other employment oriented economic activities and more than 36 per cent beneficiaries are from Minority communities. Muslim women have significantly been benefitted from these welfare schemes, they have become an equal partner of mainstream development.
(The author is Union Minister of Minority Affairs)