In the post-independence India, the phrase Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is probably one of the most misunderstood one and was deliberately propagated by the communal Hindutva organisations and even politicians to confuse general public, divide and polarize them on communal lines for their personal and political gains. They managed to create a false hype among Hindus that the Muslims, who, according to their Personal Laws, have been permitted to keep four wives at a time, will soon overtake the Hindu population and reduce them to minority and thus the descendants of Babur, the invader, will once again become the ruler of our country and this time by democratic means of majority in elections.
Similarly, fear was created among the Muslims that if UCC is implemented in India; they will not only be forced to follow the laws governing Hinduism but their survival and existence in this country will also be seriously threatened. They deliberately hide the fact that Islam came/was brought to Kerala (India) way back in the 7th century by the Arab Traders through sea route. They highlight Babur only who, ironically, came to India on the invitation of Rana Sanga to defeat Ibrahim Lodhi who was a constant headache for the Rajput King. In the year 1526 AD, Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat, took the reins of Delhi in his hand and laid the foundation of Mughal Sultanate. Babur captured Delhi by defeating a Muslim king Ibrahim Lodhi and not any Hindu King. The first Muslim Ruler over the thorn of Delhi was Qutubuddin Aibak. Shahabuddin Ghauri defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan and installed his slave Qutubuddin Aibak as the ruler of Delhi Sultanate in the year 1206 AD. Afghan and Turks also came and settled in India. This was the beginning of Slave Dynasty in our country. It is a mystery and one fails to understand that why these communal Hindutva organisations highlight only Babur as invader. Babur came to India after more than three hundred years of Muslim Rule over the Delhi Sultanate.
Moreover, a very nominal population of Muslims came to India from foreign lands; and most of the Muslims of this country are the local converts, who embraced Islam due to the prevailing social compulsions of the time. This fact has been repeatedly confirmed not only by historians but even by Swami Vivekananda (Collected works of Vivekananda Volume 8, Page 330), the greatest exponent of Hinduism. According to him, Islam was not spread in India by sword. The Muslim conquest of India came as a salvation to the downtrodden, to the poor. That is why one-fifth of our people have become Muslims. Similarly, the Sachar Committee has thoroughly exposed the Sangh Parivar’s totally false and baseless propaganda that the unchecked growth in Muslim population will result in their overtaking the Hindus, when it gave the following Report in its findings:
“Projections for future population growth in India show that by the end of the 21st century India’s total population will stabilise in which the Muslim population would be less than 20% of total.” (Pg. 45)
However, after succeeding in their mission of spreading this false propaganda against Muslims, the communalists along with the Sangh Parivar tried to garner the Hindutva vote in their favour by propagating in public that, they will implement the UCC throughout the country and thus, will not only check the abnormal growth in Muslim’s population but will also save the nation from going in their hands once again. Similarly, the self-proclaimed secularists showed their apparent sympathy to the Muslims by promising that, if voted to power, they will ensure that nothing of this sort happens in this country, and thus tried to garner their vote in their favour. Obviously, the question of Common/ Uniform Civil Code (UCC) can only be raised when there is more than one Civil Codes (CCs) within the territory of India, but constitutionally, there is no CC of our country, therefore the demand of a UCC should have ever cropped up. Ambedkar wanted to introduce this as Law Minister in early fifties but there was overwhelming opposition from Hindu fundamentalist including Hindu Maha Sabha. Therefore the proposal of Ambedkar could not be adopted. However, the politicians deliberately and purposely kept the citizens of the country in dark to exploit them for their political gains. Ironically, none, including the media, ever tried to clear this misconception by highlighting the truth so that the misunderstanding about UCC could have been removed before it could have been deeply rooted in the minds of public and acquired a communal overtone which resulted in many unpleasant happenings in the country
In fact, in our country, there are different Personal Laws (PLs) for different communities, which govern the rights relating to property, marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance and are applicable only among the persons belonging to the same religion. While The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 governs the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, the Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews and many others in different part of our country have their own PLs. It is a universally known fact that the Sangh Parivar and its allies have always presented Muslims as villains to polarise the voters on communal lines so that they can garner the Hindutva vote in their favour. To substantiate their claim, they quote some isolated cases or false stories, conveniently overlooking the fact that such cases are not only found in Islam but are equally common among other religions including Hinduism. It is interesting to note, that Goswami Tulsi Das, who is the author of Ram Charit Manas, says in this epic:
Dhol Ganwar Shudra Pashu Nari, Yeh sab taran ke adhikari
[Drums, ill-mannered persons, downtrodden, animals, women, all these deserve beating.]
Though, as the author of Ram Charit Manas, Goswami Tulsi Das commands blind faith and is highly respected in Hinduism yet no Hindu will agree to take the above quote as the governing principle of Hindu religion; but at best will accept it as a personal opinion of Tulsi Das. Therefore, some individual or isolated cases, where the personal laws have been misused can neither be generalised nor can be tagged as governing principles or evils of that religion.
To clear the misunderstanding, let us consider the logic and spirit behind the following few provisions of Muslim Personal Laws (MPLs).
Permission to keep up to four wives at a time
It is a universal fact that, since the time immemorial, the job of earning and protection of the family has always been done by the male member of the family. And to achieve this, they are required to go on difficult work sites, battlefields and other such far off and remote places where risks to their lives are many times more than the females, who are mostly confined to their homes doing their household work and looking after the other members of the family. Even today, when the women are having equal rights with their male counterparts, the protection and earnings for the family is primarily the responsibility of the male members and therefore, sheer due to the nature of their work, they are more exposed to the risks of their life than females. In such conditions, the mortality rates of the males is bound to be much more higher than the females and thus the ratio of 50:50 provided by nature is misbalanced, leaving a lot of hapless ladies without the protection and support of males. In these circumstances, only the under mentioned two options could have been offered to such females by society:
i. Leave them alone on the mercy of others to struggle with their own fate. In this case there was every possibility of their exploitation in the male dominated society as we have been coming across horrifying stories about the widows and girls since ages that too at religious places apparently in the name of religion. It was also possible that, having no other option for their survival, they might have been forced or themselves fallen in some illegal and immoral trade.
ii. Give them in the protection of another competent male who can smoothly navigate their rest of the life with peace and honour.
The latter option was naturally more dignified. Therefore, just to save ladies from social evils, the males were allowed to have more than one wife (up to four), of course with the strict understanding that he will treat them equally in every sphere of life.
The right of inheritance in the property of parents
The girls were given the right of inheritance in the assets of their parents so that even after their marriage, they can have the financial and moral support at their back and do not remain only on the mercy of their husbands or in-laws because in such cases there was every likelihood of their exploitation.
Only two provisions of MPLs have been quoted here with the logic and reasoning behind them to clear the misunderstanding deliberately spread by vested interests for their personal gains. There are many others, and if they are studied minutely with an open mind without any pre-conceived bias, these provisions of MPLs will appear more as reforms for the society than anything connected with the rituals of any religion.
The Article 44 of our Constitution says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India...” The broad conception of UCC means unifying all the “personal laws” to have one set of good secular laws, which will apply to all the citizens of the country, irrespective of their faith or religion. Any perception that a UCC would necessitate changes in only Muslim personal laws is not correct. A truly secular, non-discriminatory and progressive code may require changes in all the personal laws or Marriage Acts. As written above, though Ambedkar tried but couldn't succeed. This is the reason why changes in Personal Laws have been resisted not only by one community, but by the persons belonging to every religion.
However, probably under a pre-planned conspiracy, the politicians as well as the media, instead of highlighting the merits and social values of MPLs, deliberately created the false impression about them. This was probably done to divert the attention of Muslims from the injustices done against them by the governments and its agencies. Since our independence, the politicians have used the ‘Change in Muslim Personal Laws’ as a tool to tease Muslims and to create fear in their minds so that they exhaust their resources in defending their Personal Laws, and do not concentrate themselves in demanding their due rights of education, employments and developments as guaranteed by our Constitution. This conspiracy of the politicians and the Governments have left Muslims far behind in every field of life, and the Sachar Committee Report is its testimony.
We have already created enough issues like Babri Masjid, religious conversions, mob-lynching, Ghar Wapsi, Love Jihad Maharashtrians and non-Maharashtrians, North and South Indians, terrorism, Naxalism etc. to name a few, which have cost dearly to our nation. Any further addition like PLs, to the already existing issues may prove disastrous for the country. Since the PLs are applicable among the persons belonging to the same faith, therefore, if the followers of that particular religion do not have any problem with their PLs, why should others unnecessarily poke their nose and create a national problem even after the report of Sachar Committee? In fact, even these self-appointed nationalists are not raising their voice out of sincerity to settle any issue. Instead, the only motive behind all these actions is to tease Muslims and to polarise society on communal lines so that they can garner the Hindu votes in their favour. Their hollow slogan of Vande Matram, Lynching in the name of Gau Rakchhak, Ghar Wapsi, Love Jihad etc is for the sole motive is to present themselves as Nationalist and Muslims as Villains or anti-Nationals so that they can capture the communal votes for their personal and political gains.
Their patriotism can be gauged from the fact that when Sadhavi Pragya Singh Thakur, Col. Srikant Prasad Purohit, Swami Dayanand and other members of their core group were caught for anti-national activities of making and planting bombs at public places, they not only came out openly in their support but also raised the highly inflammatory slogans of ‘victimisation of Hindus for appeasement of minorities (read Muslims)’. Their ‘innocence’ was not only pleaded by the highest persons of their organisation at the highest level of the country but they also openly provided the accused every support including the moral legal and monetary assistance. It will be interesting to note here that since aforesaid fundamentalists/terrorists were arrested there has been no bomb blast at Public Places. This fact in itself speaks alot and clear indicator that who was doing the bomb blast so frequently all over the country.
Contrary to this, after every blasts dozens of innocent Muslims are caught allegedly for the same crime and these fundamentalist don't allow any legal aid to them even though it is their constitutional right. Anyone who dares to take up their case, is not only called anti-national but also threatened, misbehaved and even beaten along with the accused inside the courts. Ironically, apart from others, even the lawyers who are constitutionally guardians of our legal system are taking the law in their hands and doing this illegal act even inside the courtrooms and the courts, which are constitutionally bound for maintaining peace and decorum inside its premises, do not act against these goons.
Therefore, the Government should immediately clear the misunderstandings about the MPLs publicly, because due to these misconceptions, the politicians along with the anti-social elements are poisoning the society with communal hatred. Those who try to polarise voters on communal lines by provoking religious feelings, should not only be punished for anti-national activities but also be banned from contesting elections. Because, if caught in such an activity, they try to present themselves as a ‘victim of communal politics for appeasement of minorities (read Muslims) and try to propagate themselves as nationalists and heroes’ and also play the drama of becoming a martyr to gain the sympathy of that sect and thus their vote.
The minorities should also be assured not only by words but by action also to believe that nothing-discriminatory will happen against them and our secular Constitution will reign supreme. Presently the moral of the Muslims is probably at its lowest. If our constitution is applied all over the country, irrespective caste, creed and religion, it will boost their confidence in governments and its governance tremendously. Once they develop the confidence in governance and the deeply rooted fear of their victimisation on communal grounds is out of their minds, they will whole-heartedly concentrate on developmental activities to contribute their share in nation building.
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