Sultan M Hali
Hindus in India have been conscientious objectors to Islamic Shariah Courts and have been canvassing against them regularly. Their hostility reached a crescendo during the Modi regime. The Sangh Parivar became very active propagating the Hindutva agenda, enforcing repressive laws like Ghar Wapsi, which ordained that those lower caste Hindus the Dalit, had converted to Islam or Christianity to avoid persecution by upper caste Hindus, must revert back to Hinduism. Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have also faced the ire of extremist Hindus, facing organized ethnic cleansing. Kashmiri Muslims have been bearing the brunt of this targeted manslaughter. Hundreds of Muslim youth have been martyred in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) since 8 July 2016, when popular Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Wani was executed brutally. When the unarmed Kashmiri youth came out to the streets to protest the slaughter, they were targeted with pellet guns, those that escaped martyrdom, have been maimed for life. Their eyes specifically targeted and over 3,600 youth have been permanently blinded. If that were not enough, contrary to Indian Laws, Hindus are being settled in IoK to change the demographics of the Valley and reduce the Muslims to a minority. Thus in pursuance of the UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir, whenever a plebiscite takes place enabling the residents of Kashmir to decide their option of acceding to either India or Pakistan, the falsely created majority will opt for India.
In this milieu, the intolerance of orthodox Hindus, which had opposed Muslim laws, criticized the “Triple Talaq” divorce option under Islamic Shariah, without even understanding the intricacies of Islamic jurisprudence, have now jumped into the fray with a radical proclamation.
Various members of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) announced on 16 August 2018 that it has set up the country’s first ‘Hindu court’, on the lines of Shariah courts. Set up with an aim to make decisions exclusively on Hindu affairs, and have an equivalent court-like system in place just like Darul Qaza (Shariah courts)—which resolves issues and disputes according to Islamic laws—the first Hindu court also got its first judge in a ceremony that was held at the ABHM office in Meerut. The party reiterated that it had challenged the establishment of Shariah courts earlier because there should be one Constitution for all. It had informed the government in a letter if its demands are not met, it will set up a similar court for Hindus. Failing to receive a decision in its favour, ABHM set up the first Hindu court.
ABHM plans to declare the bylaws of the Hindu court on 02 October 2018 and appoint a total of five judges in different parts of the country on 15 November 2018. On the other side, Uttar Pradesh’s minority welfare minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary termed the Shariah courts as “anti-national”, declaring that they were a relic of the British Raj. He stressed that these courts were started during the British Raj in 1937 as part of their divide and rule policy. They also wanted to exploit women of the minority community. He opined that the Shariah courts infringe on the fundamental rights of women and a hindrance to the development of the nation.
The minister’s statement came against the backdrop of a raging debate over All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Zafaryab Jilani’s reported remark on opening of Darul-Qaza (Shariah courts) in all the districts of the country. It may be recalled that Indian media had reported on 18 July 2018 that the AIMPLB had announced the formation of 10 Shariah courts across the country leading to a fierce debate over the legal aspects of this decision. The BJP’s minority wing chairman in Agra Ashfaq Saifi had opposed the decision by claiming that this decision was extra-judicial and subverted the power of the judicial courts established under the Indian Constitution. He said that there are already enough courts in India to handle cases pertaining to personal laws of Hindus and Muslims and they have been doing so successfully.
Interestingly on 18 July 2018, Jilani denied making any such statement and described the media reports as “misleading”. Meanwhile, UP Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, who was in Muzaffarnagar’s Shukrtal village to attend a religious event pulled no punches in his attack on the Shariah courts continued his tirade against Shariah Courts.
Zafaryab Jilani informed media that AIMPLB had no plans to set up Shariah courts in all the districts of the country. He claimed that Darul Qazas are opened on demand in areas where the population of Muslims is large. Its costs Rs 50, 000 per month to run a Shariah court, while there are 40 Shariah courts in India at present.
Seeking to clear the air on the Shariah courts, the spokesperson of Darul Uloom, Deoband, said that they never force anyone to follow orders. “Shariah courts only give advice and it has no legal standing,” said Ashraf Usmani.
In July 2014, the Supreme Court had said that Shariah courts being run by clerics had no legal powers and their decisions could not be enforced on anyone. Muslims approach Shariah courts in the matters concerning family life and other personal issues such as marriage and divorce.
Setting up a Hindu court will create more rifts between Hindus and Muslims and ultimately undermine the rights of Muslims who are living in India as minority. The Hindutva brigade’s anti-Muslim campaign continues.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.