I have always maintained that the slogan “Bharat ke tukde” should be taken seriously. It is not just something crafted by a motley bunch of unemployed (and unemployable) college students. Rather it should be seen as a very serious statement of intent.
Understandably, with Modi sarkar in power, there has been a growing clamour for a uniform civil code. While that remains a distant dream, the first few steps have been taken to bring Indian Muslims under Indian law in some meaningful way. First, triple talaq was done away with, then the Haj subsidy was junked, now Nikah Halala may be on its way out and Aligarh Muslim University is battling hard to keep its minority status and deny SC/ST students their rights.
Please bear in mind that each of these instances above is at best either a partial victory for common sense or a work in progress. But the signs of a shift are all there. The leaders of Indian secularism have made note of this and they intend to strike back hard against the authority of the Indian state.
Leading this charge is the Indian National Congress, which is ready to burn every square inch of India down to dust if it helps them back to power. So, when we heard of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s idea to overwhelm the country with hundreds of Sharia courts, it is no surprise that the Congress eagerly signed up for it.
First of all, a word about the constitutionality of Sharia courts. There is an SC judgement that holds that Sharia courts are not unconstitutional in themselves, although their “verdicts” have no force of law. On technical grounds, this is correct. Anybody can set up a kangaroo court and start resolving disputes between people who volunteer to bring their cases before them.
The problem lies in how this is going to be practised. We can all see what’s going to happen: the weak and marginalized will be forced to submit to the authority of these Sharia courts. Their “verdicts” will be enforced by fear of physical violence.
The first victims here are going to be Muslim women. But, have you seen any feminists speaking up against this grievous assault on the rights of women? Of course, you haven’t. Because throwing Muslim women at the mercy of fundamentalist mullahs is now a time-honoured tradition of feminism. If you remember, when the triple talaq debate was at its peak, one renowned radical feminist lawyer actually argued in favour of triple talaq … her point was that Muslim women might otherwise get murdered by angry husbands. Evidently, “Teach Muslim men not to murder women” is not a slogan that has caught on among the feminist community.
The larger point is about what a swarm of Sharia courts would mean for our country. This is just the first step towards achieving a parallel state for Indian Muslims and finally another separate state for Indian Muslims, the second time in one hundred years.
Everyone knows that if you want to make something legal in India, you first do a grab and then bribe and blackmail the system to legalize it. You want to take over government land? Well, begin by encroaching just a bit…. put up four bamboo poles and tent. Then, build a little bit more a few months later. Then, build the first floor of your illegal house on the land. Then, go to local politicians and bureaucrats and bribe them to give you the permissions you lack. A year later, build another floor … then repeat the process. Everything from large housing complexes to vast slums are built this way. All Indians have seen this process in action.
The Sharia court is one such Trojan horse. Today, they don’t have the force of law. But once the system is established strongly enough, you are going to get politicians who will argue for the need to “regularize” them. With every election cycle will come the need to do another little bit extra to help build a “state within a state” for Indian Muslims.
And remember that a Sharia court for civil disputes is just the first step towards a Sharia court for criminal matters. Anybody who thinks that the mullahs who set up Sharia courts will defer to the Indian Penal Code in criminal matters is fooling himself. The AIMPLB has taken the first step here towards the … cut off hands, cut off feet, cut off neck … type of legal system that is practised in Saudi Arabia.
The legal outline for regularizing Sharia courts is already in place. Remember RTE and how “minority institutions” are allowed to exist outside the authority of the Indian state? You need to change only a few lines here and there to enable “minority courts” to come into existence.
We all know what comes next. Separate courts, then separate electorates and then Pakistan-II. In the leftover part of India, Hindus will again be a majority, which will enable the same process to start all over again. The same appeasement in the remainder of India, the same shaming and guilt-tripping of average Hindus over ‘Islamophobia.’ Until Pakistan-III is achieved another hundred years hence. Rinse and repeat till a bite-sized piece of leftover India is chewed up by its secular neighbours and lost forever.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.