Monday, April 15, 2024
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CM Himanta Biswa Sarma ruffles Muslim feathers before polls

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Assam to be second state in the country to move closer to Uniform Civil Code

By Sushil Kutty

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has repealed the Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935, thereby dealing a body-blow to child marriages, which Assamese Muslims are favourable to. Sarma, who even otherwise is bombastic, says this move had led Assam several steps closer to implementing the Uniform Civil Code, which is code for one nation-one law, which has been dormant in the directive principles since 1950.
Reports say the Assam Cabinet took the decision and henceforth, all Muslim marriages and divorces in Assam would be under the Special Marriages Act, 1954. Chief Minister Sarma chaired the Cabinet meeting which ratified the decision. Chief Minister Sarma is often seen irritating certain sections of Assam’s people with the wide smiles he sports after making such decisions. Removing traces of the “Sharia” is a Sarma specialty.
Chief Minister Sarma’s Cabinet wholeheartedly supports the Chief Minister in such endeavours. Jayanta Mallabarua, a minister in Sarma’s Cabinet, hailed the step and said it was necessary to achieve the BJP goal of Uniform Civil Code. The Assam government believes that with the repeal of this marriages and divorce act, UCC would become a reality.
The Assam Muslim Marriage & Divorce Registration Act, 1935, provided jobs to 94 Muslim registrars and that was all the good that it ever did. The 94 who have been rendered unemployed would be given a one-time compensation of Rs 2 lakh each and left to fend for themselves.
In a manner of speaking, like it or not, the Uniform Civil Code is already in force in Assam, the second state after Uttarakhand with features of UCC. And because Muslims keep parroting “we’ll abide by the law of the land”, whenever confronted with accusations of going against the Constitution, they have been swallowing and bearing the consequences of their defiance to certain laws enacted by elected legislatives.
The Uniform Civil Code is an election promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party and had along with the abrogation of Article 370 been touted more times to garner votes than any man would ask for a cup of Assam tea. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami are under pressure to deliver each their quota of Lok Sabha seats to the target of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘370’ seats.
All senior BJP leaders have to deliver to Modi’s target and it’s getting on the nerves of these leaders; more so, after the opposition INDI-Alliance has, against all odds, been showing signs of reviving into the force it was expected to become. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra had just recently passed through Assam and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was a nervous wreck during those tense days.
Will the repeal of the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act get Modi his dream number of 370 Lok Sabha seats? Why does Prime Minister Narendra Modi even need another election issue after having the big one, the ‘Ram Mandir Pran Prathistha’? Perhaps, the ruckus created did not measure up to required decibels. Therefore, the need for the repeal of the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act.
Opposition parties have already reacted, including one Assam-based state-party and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which considers itself a party for the Muslims. The first reaction is that “Muslims will follow only Shariat and Quran”, which shouldn’t surprise anybody. Himanta Biswa Sarma would have been surprised if the Muslims had quietly welcomed the abrogation.
Now what? Muslims are touchy on the subject of “child marriage” and any fiddling with even the thought of putting an end to child marriage to the Muslim is taboo. Heads have rolled for the privilege. Chief Minister Biswa Sarma will have to walk the talk now. His odd manner of speaking Hindi isn’t going to help.
Muslim parties and parties that rely on Muslims and Sharia and Quran to win elections have decided to ignore such interventions and for them, it does not matter how “Acts the government drafts” – every religion has its own process and as far as Muslims are concerned. Child marriage has also been a majority community practice, still is with many Hindu communities. (IPA Service)

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