More than 30 years after Shah Bano case, the landmark verdict of the Supreme Court on Triple Talaq reminds 67-year-old realty agent Jameel Ahmad of those heady days when he visited the then prime minister Rajeev Gandhi in Delhi.
While welcoming the apex court verdict on Triple Talaq from his Indore home, Jameel Ahmad said:
My father got married twice and my mother Shah Bano was his first wife. The second wife of my father was 14 years younger than him. Both the ladies used to fight endlessly over trivial issues. That was the reason why my father decided to divorce my mother.Jameel Ahmad, Shah Bano’s Youngest Son
MA Khan, the husband of Shah Bano, was a well-known lawyer of Indore with a couple of law degrees.
After divorce in 1979, Shah Bano appealed for maintenance in the local court.
Khan challenged the verdict in the high court. There, his appeal was rejected. Then he took the case to the Supreme Court. And there too, he lost the case.
Jameel Ahmad, the youngest son of Shah Bano, says:
My mother was a simple woman. She loved to remain inside the house. She was devastated after she was divorced at the age of 60 in 1979. She developed high blood pressure and frequently fell ill.Jameel Ahmad
Shah Bano died of brain haemorrhage in 1992. “My father became a different man after marrying for the second time. He used to treat his five children from his first wife with contempt,” recalls Jameel.
When my father was not keen to pay even maintenance to my mother after divorce, then she got some divine power. She appealed in the local court and finally won a seven-year legal battle for maintenance.Jameel Ahmad
Haunted by Bitter Memories
Jameel has been embittered, and he hates his father for treating his mother and his five siblings cruelly
My mother fought for self-respect. My father was very unfair to us.Jameel Ahmad
Jameel reveals that after his father divorced Shah Bano, they faced many hardships.
Even though he was financially well-ff, he hardly cared for us. He used to meet us only on Eid. Our relatives too abandoned us.Jameel Ahmad
Jameel was almost in tears when he recalled a very nasty incident. “After divorcing my mother, once I went to meet my father on Eid. But he slapped me and hurled abuses at me.”
Meeting Former PM Rajiv Gandhi
Jameel vividly remembers the days when the Supreme Court in 1985 had upheld Shah Bano’s maintenance claim.
After the SC judgement went in our favour, a large number of people visited our home. They told us that there had been a mistake and explained how things should have been according to the Shariat. They were offering us jobs and money if we rejected the maintenance. But we did not succumb to them.Jameel Ahmad
He still remembers a huge rally that was held against the judgment in Indore and Mumbai.
The Indore rally was held near our place in Khajrana. It was really scary. The crowd tried to threaten us.
After the verdict, Shah Bano got an invitation from Rajiv Gandhi. “He wanted to meet my mother and so I had accompanied my mother to Delhi.”
Recalling his meeting with Rajiv Gandhi, Jameel Ahmad said:
Rajiv ji said that the situation was very critical. He asked us to refuse the maintenance. He spent around 15 minutes with us.
Triple Talaq Verdict: A New Ray of Hope
Talking about the Supreme Court’s verdict on Triple Talaq, he feels it will give Muslim women new life. Now they no longer have to live under the threat of instant divorce. Since more often than not, they are illiterate and face serious difficulties after divorce, the judgment will come as a measure of relief.
“The condition of Muslim women is appalling to say the least. They deserve a better deal,” he says.
Meanwhile, MA Khan and his second wife are no more, and his two sets of children have no contact or relations to speak of.
(The writer is former Editor, Somaiya Publications. He can be reached @VivekShukla108.)
(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience with The Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to email@example.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335.)