Bihar: AIMPLB’s planned ‘Deen Bachao, Desh Bachao’ meet suits BJP

Given recent communal incidents in Bihar, AIMPLB and Emarat-e-Shariah’s planned Deen Bachao, Desh Bachao meet in Patna is more about political designs of BJP and AIMPLB than saving religion or nation

Courtesy: Twitter.com/yadavtejashwi
Courtesy: Twitter.com/yadavtejashwi
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Soroor Ahmed

It does not need a conference or rally to save either ‘Deen’ (religion) or ‘Desh’ (country). Yet the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Emarat-e-Shariah Phulwarisharif, Patna have announced a ‘Deen Bachao, Desh Bachao’ conference in Patna on April 15. The fact is that such mobilisations are often made just to save the existence of those organisations who issue the call.

True, the date of the conference was announced much before the March 14 bypoll results in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, yet there is no dearth of people who dub it as an exercise in futility. These people apprehend that the BJP may exploit the AIMPLB/ Emarat conference for its own political ends. They have a point: attempts have been made to foment trouble at several places in Bihar, including Bhagalpur (which had in 1989 witnessed an infamous riots) after the BJP’s byelection defeat in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Araria Lok Sabha constituencies and Jehanabad assembly seat.

First, a video purporting to show a couple of Muslim Rashtriya Janata Dal supporters raising pro-Pakistan slogans after the victory of party candidate Sarfaraz Alam in Araria, went viral. Then some media outlets raised suspicions on the authenticity of the video.

Then the Bihar Police on March 18 booked Arjit Shashwat, son of Union minister Ashwini Choubey, for attempting to incite communal passions by taking out an unauthorised procession on the eve of Hindu New Year’s day, thus triggering communal clashes in Bhagalpur town on March 17. Shashwat had unsuccessfully contested the 2015 assembly election from Bhagalpur on a BJP ticket. He is yet to be arrested.

Ashwini Choubey and another Union minister Giriraj Singh came out with statements against Bihar Police, prompting the Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav to ask who was lying: the Union ministers or the Bihar government?

Attempts were also made to create tension in Darbhanga, where rumours spread that Ramchandra Yadav, father of a BJP worker, was killed on March 15 night allegedly by RJD supporters, after he named a chowk (square) after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The district police and Bihar’s BJP Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi dismissed the rumours as false, stating that the murder was the fallout of a land dispute. In fact, the renaming of the square has taken place two years ago.

The main focus of the April 15 conference at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan in Patna would certainly be on the Triple Talaq Bill. The truth is that the general opinion of Muslims is against the bill and the manner in which it was hurriedly passed by the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session. But this does not mean that Muslim men and women are not questioning the stand of the AIMPLB and Emarat-e-Shariah. The general feeling is that the community leadership has let down Muslims in an hour of crisis

These developments upset both Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, leaders of Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti parties, respectively. Nitish on March 19 said that he had not made any compromise on corruption and would not compromise with those causing social division either.

The main focus of the April 15 conference at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan in Patna would certainly be on the Triple Talaq Bill. The truth is that the general opinion of Muslims is against the bill and the manner in which it was hurriedly passed by the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session. But this does not mean that Muslim men and women are not questioning the stand of the AIMPLB and Emarat-e-Shariah. The general feeling is that the community leadership has let down Muslims in an hour of crisis. At best these two organisations only represent a particular school of thought––that is Hanafi.

The reality is that a large number of dissenting voices are emerging from within the AIMPLB and Emarat on the manner in which the whole exercise is being carried. For instance, Razi-ul-Islam Nadvi, secretary of Idara-e-Tahqeeq-o-Tasneef-e-Islami, a sort of think-tank of Jamaat-e-Islami, a constituent of the Board, in a Facebook post questioned the way Muslim women were made to march on the streets with banners and placards.

Off the record there is no dearth of Muslim intellectuals as well as those within the AIMPLB, who are of the view, that the issue of Talaq-e-Biddat (biddat means any new practice introduced in Islam which is neither mentioned in Quran, nor practised by Prophet Mohammad) has been hijacked by the likes of Asaduddin Owaisi, MP from Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul-e-Muslimeen and Maulana Wali Rahmani of Emarat-e-Shariah.

The problem, according to noted social activist, Arshad Ajmal, is that those who are leading the campaign are unable to understand the present day politics, where the BJP does not believe in giving any space to such road-shows by Muslims and the other parties in Bihar are now not in a position to do so.

A retired bank manager, whose family is incidentally related to a prominent Khanqah of Phulwarisharif, is of the view that there is a general consensus that the issue of triple talaq is being politicised for narrow political ends.

Naiyer Fatmi, formerly associated with the Urdu daily Qaumi Awaz, and is now Managing Director of Al-Khair Credit Cooperative Society, agrees with him. “Deen aur desh bacha hua hai. Pehle BJP wale aur Board ke log thik ho jayen,” (both Islam and country are safe. First let the BJP leaders and Board people mend their ways), Fatmi added.

Both Fatmi and the retired bank manager are of the view that the real need of the hour is to teach the people about the political design of both the BJP and AIMPLB.

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