2019 has witnessed some reforms centered around the Muslims of India. If Triple Talaq and Education & Haj Schemes lifted the spirits of the Muslim Community, Abrogation of Article 370, Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Land Dispute, and Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 may have balanced out the sentiments of the community. Let us dive deeper into how different policies, acts, and decisions shaped the outlook.
Crux of the Matter
Triple Talaq Criminalised Family Affairs of the Muslim Community of India are governed by Muslim Personal Law. Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat is a practice pronounced in the Sharia Law. Muslim marriages permit divorce if either spouse announces ‘Talaq’ thrice. There have been contentious issues revolving around the time that ought to be given between each announcement, the right of Muslim women to pronounce Triple Talaq, and the responsibility of the financial security of the family. Historically, Ulamas – Muslim scholars – have held opposing views about it. Some modern-day Muslim scholars have said that despite being hollow on legal grounds, this law is binding. We must note that Triple Talaq is banned in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Supreme Court, in 2017, rendered the practice of Triple Talaq unconstitutional. 2 members, who opposed the ban on Triple Talaq, of the 5-judge bench had, however, recommended that the decision be passed as a law in the Parliament. On 26 July 2019, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed. It stated that “instant Triple Talaq” announced in whatever form – written, spoken or via Email or SMS, will be considered illegal and stand void. The husband, who announced it, could be imprisoned up to three years.
This law, on the grounds of constitutionality and human rights, was hailed by Muslim women of India. Muslim Scholars and Incumbents also welcomed the government’s decision. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi objected to the imprisonment clause of the Bill and said that the Bill did not meet its primary objective of safeguarding women’s security, chiefly financial. The government stood their ground and said that the victimization of women would be reduced.
In a state where 67% of the population is Muslim, a chill ran across the community with the abrogation of Article 370. Some Muslims were apprehensive that scrapping of the Act would invite a lot of outsiders to settle in the state and were of the opinion that their privilege was lost in an unconstitutional manner. Whereas, some Muslims praised the decision of the government and asserted that the discrimination against them will no longer exist and their children will have access to better education and economy.
On a different note, the Indian government received criticism for the way in which the whole operation was carried out. Internet shutdown and curb on mobile and telephone services were major contentions for the government.
Do only Muslims live in Jammu and Kashmir? No Hindus? No Buddhists? Why is it viewed like that? It has been abrogated for veryone and not only for Muslims.
– Amit Shah on abrogation of Article 370
Ayodhya Land Dispute The long-standing Ayodhya Land Verdict that divided Hindus and Muslims of India came in the year 2019 with the Supreme Court stating that the land would be given to Hindus for Ram temple construction and Muslims will get a 5-acre land at a different place to build a mosque.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the SC ordered and said, “There has been discrimination against Muslims and no one can deny it. We are fighting for our legal rights.”. Many Muslims were affirmative about upholding SC’s decision as it was based on evidence and rationale.
Citizenship Amendment Act Interpretation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the speculation of the National Register of Citizens by some has shaped apprehension that the process is a concentrated effort to drive out Muslims of the country. The Act now provides citizenship to illegal immigrants from certain religiously persecuted minorities.
Ruling party BJP has time and again asserted that the law will not affect the citizens of India. Home Minster Amit Shah said, “In this Bill, there is no proposal to touch the citizenship of any Muslim,”.
Government Policies In the year 2019 BJP 2.0 has launched and revamped various policies for the upliftment of Muslims. In the Education sector, the government notified merit-cum-means, pre-matric, post-matric, and various other scholarships for minority communities that also include Muslims. The government also started trained more than 750 teachers from Madras so that they can also impart formal education. “Besides traditional teachings in Madrasa, Urdu, Arabic and other languages, Madrasa teachers are also being provided training for mainstream formal education like Hindi, Maths, English, Science, Computer, regional languages etc. These teachers are being provided training from reputed institutions of the country such as IIT, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Anjuman-e-Islam, Amity University and other reputed educational institutes,” said Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Government also took interest in digitizing the entire Haj process so as to give the travelers a transparent process. India launched E-MASIHA, an acronym for E Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad. It was a database of Indian pilgrims’ health conditions. A record-breaking 2 lakh Muslims had visited Haj in 2019.
Waqf properties across India were also brought under digitization by the Indian government. Government has a target of geo-tagging as many as 6 lakh Waqf properties to ensure better utilization of them.
Triple talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), was a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allowed any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by uttering the word talaq (the Arabic word for “divorce”) three times in oral, written or, more recently, electronic form. More Info
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. More Info
A waqf, also known as hubous or mortmain property, is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as waqif, a donor. More Info
With Budget 2020 hovering over India’s economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has hinted at some massive reforms. “I have gone through this with a comb. We are working to decriminalize companies and ensure no other Acts, including Income Tax and PMLA, have such provisions,” she said.
Crux of the Matter
Ahead of Budget 2020, FM Sitharaman has hinted at decriminalizing Income Tax Act and Corporate Laws. The move, if made, will abolish the criminal provisions pertaining to penalty and jail.
She also emphasized on reforming tax dispute settlement mechanisms. FM said, “Nearly 95% cases are closed. About Rs. 35,000 crore has been settled. The total value of cases was over Rs. 2 lakh crore. There is another 5% cases which didn’t opt for the scheme, and they will be fought in courts.”
Government is working towards technology-enabled dispute resolution mechanisms, in which there would be no “face-to-face interaction” with the tax authorities.
FM acknowledged that privatization had not been carried out optimally and that the government is making efforts towards rapid privatization so as to put India on the path of $5 trillion economy.
Sitharaman affirmed that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) violations would not be treated as criminal offenses but as civil liability. India Inc. has welcomed this move as the one giving breathing space to corporates.
Penalties in Income Tax Act – There are various penalties & fees which can be levied as per the Income Tax Act, 1961. Some of the important penalties and fees are: a) Penalty under section 271(1)(c) for either concealment of income or for furnishing inaccurate particulars of income b) Penalty u/s 270A for under reporting or misreporting of income; and c) Fee u/s 234F for late filing of ITR. More Info
Penalties for Violating CSR Norms – According to the amendments in the Companies Act, companies violating CSR norms could face a monetary fine from Rs. 50,000 up to Rs. 25 lakh. Violating Company’s officials could also be imprisoned for up to 3 years. More Info
J&K’s DSP Davinder Singh was caught ferrying two most wanted Kashmiri militants. NIA probe into the matter surfaced that he had been assisting militants with logistics and safe passage for quite a time. The Black Sheep is being probed for his alleged role in the 2001 Parliament Attack, 2017 Pulwama Attack, and for his ties with Afzal Guru, ISI, and other terrorist groups.
Crux of the Matter
Who is DSP Davinder Singh? Davinder Singh, belonging to Tral in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, joined the Police force as a sub-inspector in 1990 right after this graduation. In the early part of his career, he had voluntarily joined the Counter Insurgency Wing. He has an immaculate track record of conducting counter-terrorist operations with the Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K. A family man, Davinder stays in a posh area of Srinagar called Indira Nagar. His wife is a teacher and he has three children – two daughters who study MBBS in Bangladesh, and a son who studies in the eminent Burn Hall School. The 57-year old had been awarded ‘Sher-e-Kashmir‘ for his brave role in the unpopular 2017 Pulwama Terror Attack. On I-Day, 2019, he had also been awarded ‘Police Medal for Meritorious Service‘. However, in police circles, he is known for being ‘shady‘ and ‘corrupt‘. His notorious involvement, that we will examine later in this piece, corroborates the word of police officers.
Why is He Under Radar? Spotlights have shifted to DSP Davinder Singh because in snowy white mountains of Kashmir he was caught red-handed, allegedly, ferrying two most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, Naveed Babu and Rafi Ahmed.
Police had received information about two militants trying to pass the Jawahar Tunnel. Police had gotten hold of DSP Davinder, a driver, and two Hizbul militants driving in a car, Hyundai i10, containing arms and ammunition at a police checkpoint on South Kashmir’s Jammu-Srinagar Highway. The driver was identified as a former lawyer named Irfan Shafi.
The first militant, Syed Naveed Mushtaq, also known as Naveed Babu, was a former Kashmir Policeman who turned into a militant. Besides accusation of stealing police rifles, he has 17 FIRs charged against him in various serious crimes. The other militant was also a wanted militant of the region.
At first, DSP Singh had denied allegations and had said that he was ferrying these militants to make them surrender. “He had no authorization to ferry the two terrorists, and so, it cannot be justified as a covert operation. If it was a direction that came from above, senior officers would have known. Police officers do infiltrate in terrorist groups for information, but it is a part of an operation and seniors are in the loop. He willfully entered into this conspiracy with the terrorists for financial gains,” said a J&K Police Source to the Print.
DSP Davinder has been suspended from service and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is currently investigating him.
Davinder’s Unsevered Past DSP Davinder’s notorious actions had been conformed as corrupt and shady by police circles. About 20 years ago, Singh was accused of supplying AK-47 rifles to hijackers in the Athwajan region of Srinagar. His image as a Policeman who is extremely harsh has raised numerous voices of custodial death under his charge. Time and again he has been in the limelight of allegations of extorting money from businessmen as well commons.
He has been accused of providing safe passage, in the year 1990, to India to the 2001 Parliament Attack terrorist Mohammed. In 2005, Davinder was also alleged to have provided safe passage to four Kashmiri militants who were found with arms, ammunition, wireless set, and a safe passage letter, all of which, allegedly, provided by Davinder.
His most controversial involvement comes from the letter written by Afzal Guru, convict of the 2001 Parliament Attack. Davinder had asked Afzal Guru to ferry Mohammed, another accused in the 2001 Parliament case, from Kashmir to Delhi. This has led the authorities to probe Davinder Singh’s role in the 2001 Parliament Attack. Authorities are also looking into his role, if any, in the 2017 Pulwama Terror Strike.
His recent visits to Bangladesh and Nepal have had the attention of agencies probing him. As per Singh, he had visited his daughters studying there. However, agencies are probing whether Singh would have met militants or anyone linked to Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
Is Winter Coming for Him? NIA’s investigation has confirmed that DSP Davinder Singh was assisting militants with logistics. He has also been helping them with safe passages from one district to another. It is speculated that Naveed’s contact was established by him through the help of the top Pakistani leaders of Hizbul Mujahideen. His three-storey luxury house in Srinagar was searched several times by authorities. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the NIA are looking deeper into this matter.
His gallantry medal ‘Sher-e-Kashmir‘ has been forfeited. “All organisations have black sheep and the DSP was one. The credit goes to the police officers who identified him and arrested him and unearthed the whole conspiracy. One should bear in mind that hundreds of policemen have laid down their lives in the fight against terrorism,” said Advisor to Lt. Governor, Farooq Khan.
The 2001 Indian Parliament attack was a terrorist attack on the Parliament of India in New Delhi on 13 December 2001. The perpetrators allegedly belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), two Pakistan-based alleged terrorist organisations by India. The attack led to the deaths of five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener – in total 14 – and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in the 2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff. More Info
This is the continuation of the first part of the story. The last year of the decade has seen the sprouting of protests across the globe. From Latin America to Hong Kong, the protests that flared up can be rooted in three major causes, climate change issues, widening economic gap, and political repression. Suppression of protests and protestors in a systemic way was seen to be a common thread. Let us peep into the protests that shook the civilization in 2019.
Crux of the Matter
Opposition in October Iraq was wrapped in anti-establishment protests in the month of October. Protestors were agitating against corruption, economic divide, poor public infrastructure, nepotism, and authoritarian governance. Authorities were also condemned for using tear gas bombs, rubber bullets, actual bullets, snipers, hot pepper, etc. to disperse protests. Protestors also raised critical issues of Iraq being domesticated by the US, inefficient use of revenue from oil, and Iran’s intervention in Iraq.
In October, Bolivia was engaged in protests after allegations about Electoral Fraud in the 2019 Elections were made. Jeanine Anez took over Evo Morales as the President of Bolivia after Evo resigned. Protests persisted while the entire scene played out. 14 people were killed during the protests as a result of undue force by authorities on protestors.
Spain was also not fared from protests. In the ongoing prosecution against top leaders and people who organized referendum in Catalan, 9 people were charged with sedition and other charges. This led to massive violent protests in Spain. During the violent protests that continued for a week, protestors used force and pelted stones to impose the protests, whereas police charged protestors with baton and resorted to tear gas to disperse the protestors. Nearly 25,000 university students came out on the streets for a peaceful demonstration.
Chilean uproar began in response to the increase in the subway fare of Santiago Metro. The protests also caught more spark against the increased cost of living in the country, economic disparity, and leeching privatization policies of the state. Protestors resorted to vandalism and arson of property. President Sebastian Pinera called a state of emergency and announced a curfew in the protest-hit area. Police resorted to the brutal use of force and in one of the incidents as many as 200 people damaged their eyesight as a result of the police pellets. As many as 2500 people were injured and 20 killed. There have been reported incidents of torture, sexual assault, and sexual abuse on protestors by security forces.
Apart from protests in Bolivia, Spain, and Chile in the month of October, Lebanon also fell into a revolutionary frenzy. Civil Protests in Lebanon were a culmination of the proposed tax on gas, tobacco, and online phone calls. Gradually the protests turned into an uproar against corruption, unemployment, economic situation, and inflexible government. The protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Not So Good November Outcry in Italy is a political movement against Matteo Salvini. The protests came to be known as Sardines Movement – crowd protesting on streets like sardines packed in a shoal. Partly because of the Anti-Immigration Policies and of the rising amount of Hate Speech in Politics caused the agitators to raise their voice against, as opposition in Italy claims, ‘authoritarian and undemocratic‘ leader Salvini.
Malta was rocked in protests after its government was accused of participating in the assassination of journalist Daphne Galizia. Protestors took the issues of corruption, poor governance, and judicial hollowness on the streets. Protestors demanded resignation from Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Not only there have been overlapping reasons for the protests across the globe, but there also have been similar combat techniques by the government. Some protests resulted in the ousting of the incumbent, whereas others have out forth that demand. Protests proved to be helping Sudan in revamping its government structure. The rising voice of students across the globe, use of violence by mob, government’s use of internet blackout, and police authorities using force were seen almost everywhere.
The fashion in which protests have erupted throughout the world gives a sense of nostalgia for the Arab Spring and the Arab Winter that followed. Although the protests are rising against governments and economic gap, it would not be an understatement to anticipate a serious cyclic lap like Arab Winter.
The Arab Winter is a term for the resurgence of authoritarianism, absolute monarchies and Islamic extremism evolving in the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests in Arab countries. Events referred to as the Arab Winter include those in Egypt that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi and the seizure of power by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in an anti-Muslim Brotherhood campaign. According to scholars of the University of Warsaw, the Arab Spring fully devolved into the Arab Winter four years after its onset, in 2014. The Arab Winter is characterized by the emergence of multiple regional civil wars, mounting regional instability, economic and demographic decline of Arab countries, and ethnoreligious sectarian strife. According to a study by the American University of Beirut, by the summer of 2014, the Arab Winter had resulted in nearly a quarter of a million deaths and millions of refugees. Perhaps the most significant event in the Arab Winter was the rise of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which controlled large swathes of land in the region from 2014 to 2017. More Info
The last year of the decade has seen the sprouting of protests across the globe. From Latin America to Hong Kong, the protests that flared up can be rooted in three major causes, climate change issues, widening economic gap, and political repression. Suppression of protests and protestors in a systemic way was seen to be a common thread. Let us peep into the protests that shook the civilization in 2019.
Crux of the Matter
Beginning of 2019 Towards the end of 2018, France had engulfed in ‘Yellow Vest‘ Protests. The protests began as an upheaval against the rising fuel cost, and cost of living in France as for French people living in rural areas or out of urban regions, a car is a necessity. The protest that began as an online petition, became widespread by the beginning of 2019 and gradually morphed into anti-establishment protests. Towards the end of 2019, the Yellow Vest protests sparked up again, but this time to agitate against pension reforms. The movement is ongoing. Protestors had resorted to road-blocks and other methods to show their dissent, whereas police did their duty of dispersing the crowd, sometimes a little too harshly that injured protestors.
February 2019 Kazakhstan was the next nation to face anti-establishment dissent. 5 children died due to house fire in Nur Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Citizens’ discontentment was fueled by citing numerous lapses of the government and the rapidly growing economic gap. While the protests were ongoing, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over. The new President called for snap elections, which he won with thumping majority. However, protests persisted – some seeking economic reforms, some asking the government to not bend to China – and the government many times arrested protestors.
Algeriens ‘March’ Forth In March 2019, protestors flocked to streets in Algeria. Protestors, mostly Millenials, saw unrealized freedom and liberal laws. They demanded the then Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been incumbent for 3 decades, to withdraw his candidacy. Majorly a government reformation protest was underway to diminish the monopolistic environment. Some protestors vandalized property and resorted to violent means. Algerians Police had said that “the majority of the people arrested were under the influence of psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances.” Bouteflika had to resign.
Hong Kong Protests, Trendsetters Protests in Hong Kong flared up after the controversial Extradition Bill. The Bill might have exposed HK to regulations of Mainland China, and fear of this brought thousands of protestors, mostly young, to the streets. Violence erupted after Carry Lam proceeded with the Bill and the police resorted to tear gas bombing and firing rubber bullets on protestors. Soon after the protests took a meta form and police atrocity was another brick in the high wall of protests. Police and Student protestors had clashed at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Protestors used gasoline bombs and fired arrows at the police and seized universities to use them as a fort to develop weapons and strategize protests. While the police were criticized for using undue force on protestors. Protestors put forth 5 demands: 1. Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill (This demand has been met) 2. For the protests not to be characterized as “riot” 3. Amnesty for arrested protesters 4. An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality 5. Implementation of complete universal suffrage
Pro-Democracy cried continued from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Protests could be seen as one in which highest number of people flocked the streets to protests against government action in the recent past. Repercussions of the Hong Kong Protests were seen in the economy of the country and in the traction it received from world nations. Social Media played an integral role in strategizing protests in Hong Kong, with a lot of people resorting to talking in encryption like using Bruce Lee‘s famous “Be Water” phrase. Hong Kong protests might have acted as a catalyst for the global wave of protests in 2019.
Mid Year Blues Russia‘s Moscow witnessed unrest from the month of July. During the 2019 Moscow City Duma Elections, many independent candidates filed cases against violation by authorities as those candidates were not allowed to participate in the elections. Several people joined the protests to More than 1000 protestors were detained.
In September, protests broke out in Egpyt as citizens wanted to oust President Sisi and his authoritarian government. Pro-Sisi and Anti-Sisi clashes saw protestors coming out in the streets. Nearly 4000 arbitrary arrests were made by the Egyptian authorities. International Communities condemned the arrests. The government resorted to internet shutdown to curb the protests.
Protests paced up exponentially in the second half of the year. All the protests, more or less, revolved around raising voice against the government. Protests that began as dissent against price hike or political actions took the shape of anti-establishment protests. The tide of protest that also engulfed other world nations appears to be an exponential version of the Arab Spring.
The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, starting with protests in Tunisia. The wave of initial revolutions and protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators and militaries. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases. Large-scale conflicts resulted: the Syrian Civil War; the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war; the Egyptian Crisis, coup, and subsequent unrest and insurgency; the Libyan Civil War; and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war. Regimes that lacked major oil wealth and hereditary succession arrangements were more likely to undergo regime change. More Info