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
In an attempt by China to internationalize the issue of Kashmir and support its ally Pakistan; China sought a ‘closed-door consultation‘ at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which was rejected by all other nations considering it as a bilateral issue.
Crux of the Matter
Other permanent members clearly said the issue is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.
French diplomats said that they have stated it on several occasions that the Kashmir issue must be settled bilaterally.
The UK also urged that the matter be resolved bilaterally and the US said there was no need to discuss this issue at the Security Council.
Russian envoy to the UN also tweeted his country’s stand within minutes after the UNSC meeting.
Germany is also of the view that UNSC is not the place to discuss the Kashmir dispute.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in New York when the UNSC meeting took place. He had a meeting with the UN secretary-general and with the President of the UNGA.
After the second failed attempt of China in five months, India is gearing up for possible developments in March when China will take over the rotational presidency at UNSC.
Dmitry Polyanskiy said, “Russia firmly stands for the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. We hope that differences between them will be settled through bilateral efforts based on the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration.”
India’s permanent representative at UN Syed Akbaruddin said “the ‘alarmist scenario’ painted by Pak has failed. Pakistan’s practice of using false pretences to distract from the malaise that afflicts it has run its course today.”
The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with ensuring international peace and security, accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its charter. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions. The Security Council was created following World War II to maintain world peace. The Security Council consists of fifteen members. With five permanent members, the council has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve a term of two years. More Info
After the Supreme Court ordered a review of all the restrictive orders that are still in place in Kashmir; the broadband internet services will be partially restored and the Governor will further analyze the situation and take a call on the restoration of cellphone internet.
Crux of the Matter
The process will be conducted in phases starting from January15.
Access would be first given in Central Kashmir and Srinagar, followed by north Kashmir (Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla) two days later. After another two days, South Kashmir (Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag) will be given access.
According to the government order, social networking sites will remain under complete restriction. Government websites and websites dealing with essential services and e-banking would be given full internet access.
The order specifies the institutions that would be responsible for preventing any misuse and has laid down necessary precautions, including the appointment of nodal officers, keeping record and monitoring usage, and having authorised users.
The Lieutenant-Governor will take a call on the restoration of cellphone internet after a detailed review is conducted.
Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus– The Hindus of the Kashmir Valley, were forced to flee the Kashmir valley as a result of being targeted by JKLF and Islamist insurgents during late 1989 and early 1990. Of the approximately 300,000 to 600,000 Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley in 1990, only 2,000–3,000 remain there in 2016. According to the Indian government, more than 62,000 families are registered as Kashmiri refugees including some Sikh and Muslim families. Most families were resettled in Jammu, National Capital Region surrounding Delhi and other neighbouring states. Read More
Diplomats from 15 countries visited the Valley to monitor the current situation closely. The fact-finding mission is the first one since the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. India wants the International community to be assured of the normalcy in the region.
Several politicians were detained as part of preventive measures and none other than Indian politicians were allowed to visit J&K.
In October, EU Parliament members visited the Valley but this is for the first time Delhi invited foreign diplomats to visit India controlled J&K to have a ground report of Kashmir’s situation.
Envoys consisted of members from US, Vietnam, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Peru.
Aim of the visit is to interact with civil society leaders, have a briefing on security parameters, and talk with Army and Intelligence Services.
EU envoy visit is postponed but it will be important as it has put forth a demand to give them a free hand which may also include meeting detained political figures like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti.
The reviews of envoys at the International level will be of greater importance for India because of the constant portrayal of a tense situation in Kashmir at the international front.
The government has started postpaid telephone services and SMS services to bring back normalcy in the region.
Indian government has denied this visit to be a planned one.
Jammu and Kashmir (Union Territory) – J&K has been a subject of dispute between India and Pakistan. Moreover constant terrorist infiltration in India has caused great distress in this region. But after the abrogation of Article 370, there has been a reduction in the violent elements in the valley. More Info
A three-judge SC bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and BR Gavai gave its verdict on pleas filed by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to challenge restrictions imposed in J&K. SC ordered the Jammu & Kashmir administration to review all restrictive orders within a week.
Crux of the Matter
The Supreme Court said that any order that has been passed to suspend internet services in J&K will be subject to judicial scrutiny.
SC ordered J&K administration to review all restrictive orders within a week and asked to put all orders in the public domain which can then be challenged in a court of law.
SC also said the suspension of the internet for an indefinite period is not permissible and Freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution includes Right to Internet.
On the use of Section 144 in the state SC said, “It cannot be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion.”
The government had justified restrictions saying that it was done as a preventive measure and due to which neither a single life was lost nor a single bullet fired.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “the government had tried to mislead the people and this time the apex court did not come under any pressure.”
Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The article was drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions. The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, after its establishment, was empowered to recommend the articles of the Indian constitution that should be applied to the state or to abrogate the Article 370 altogether. This article, along with Article 35A, defined that the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to residents of other Indian states. More Info