Mamata’s ‘Diplomatic’ Silence On Triple Talaq Bill Won’t Hurt TMC

With Muslim women welcoming the Triple Talaq Bill, what explains Mamata’s ‘golden’ silence on the issue?

4 min read

Shabnam (name changed) is confused about her marital status. She doesn’t know whether she is still married or has been divorced by her husband. The reason for such an ambiguity is a single-page document that the cleric sent her, stating that the divorce has been done with mutual consent as Shabnam’s husband was not willing to take her back.

One fine day, the cleric sent me a single page document informing me about the divorce. The document didn’t have the signature of either my husband or myself. I don’t know whether I am divorced or still married. The clerics have been playing with the lives of several women under the garb of being the custodians of the community.

Shabnam, a resident of a Muslim neighbourhood at Topsia in Kolkata, got married in 2007, but her husband revealed to her on the very first day of marriage that he was already having an affair and was forced into marriage by his parents. He abandoned her in 2010 after three years of a tempestuous relationship.


Mindset Needs to Change

Shabnam who offers namaz (prayers) during most part of the day, is of the view that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 passed by the Lok Sabha is indeed a good step by the Centre, but more should be done to teach a fitting lesson to such men who consider women as furniture that can be replaced:

Punishment must be more stringent than the maximum jail term of three years, as has been proposed in the Bill. The convict would complete his term of imprisonment and then roam free, only to ruin the life of other women.

She further stressed on the importance of changing the mindset of the society that considers a divorced woman as “untouchable.”


Apprehensions Over New Law

While many, among those The Quint spoke to, expressed happiness over the new law, few suggested that the focus should shift on those women who would shoulder the responsibility of raising children after the arrest of their husbands for uttering ‘talaq’ thrice.

“It is no doubt a commendable initiative taken by the government, but one should also think about those women whose husbands would be jailed for the offence”, said Zeba Parveen, a homemaker and mother of two minor girls at Park Circus area of Kolkata.

Their in-laws would certainly not be keen to give shelter for sending the family’s son to jail. It would be very difficult for economically backward women to sustain themselves.
Zeba Parveen

Her husband, Md Asif, a government school teacher, aired his concerns regarding Clause 7 of the bill that states triple talaq as a cognisable and non-bailable offence:

The bill mentions talaq-e-biddat to be a cognisable offence, which means that a person can be arrested without a warrant and even without a complaint lodged by his wife. A man will continue to languish in jail even if he is innocent as the offence is non-bailable. There are also chances of the law being misused as was evident in the case of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Md Asif

He also raised serious objections against triple talaq being declared a criminal offence when divorce matters under the Indian law are being taken up in civil courts.


Clerics Oppose the Law

The clerics, however, are displeased with the bill and claim it to be an unnecessary intervention in the Sharia law which they regard as the law of Allah, “We would not tolerate any law against Islam”, says Md Falahuddin, the cleric of Lal Masjid in Topsia.

This is completely uncalled for. The government should consult Muslim organisations and other agencies before framing such laws. We cannot be pressurised to follow any rule which is against Islam. We will try our best to sort out differences between couples so that the matters do not head for a divorce. But allow us to follow the rules laid down by the Sharia, which is the law of the Allah.
Md. Falahuddin

TMC’s Stoic Silence

What has surprised a section of the Muslim community is the reaction of the ruling party Trinamool Congress that has maintained a stoic silence in Lok Sabha.

Political analysts have termed the stand taken by the TMC as ‘diplomatic silence’ of the party in view of the current political scenario in the state:

I would call it a diplomatic silence because by neither supporting the bill nor opposing it, the TMC has managed to keep the vote bank of both Hindus as well as Muslims intact. The support of the bill by the ruling party would have angered the Muslims and opposing it would have made caused heartburn among Hindus who also vote for the Trinamool Congress.
Prof SP Basu, Political Analyst

He further said that the TMC cannot afford to upset its Hindu vote bank, especially when BJP is on the rise in Bengal as demonstrated by its impressive show in South Contai and recently concluded Sabang bypolls where it gave a good fight to the TMC candidates.


(The writer is a Kolkata-based freelance journalist. He can be reached @gurus3398.)

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