In 2017, when BJP passed the historic Triple Talaq Bill, Meenakshi Lekhi dedicated it to Arif Mohd Khan, the former Congress leader and advocate for Muslim Women’s Rights. Remembering the contribution made by the former cabinet minister, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi hailed the decision of Khan when he resigned from the Congress after it moved the law to stop the maintenance of divorced Muslim Women in 1986. Now, in an interview, Arif Mohammad Khan has said that he is pleased that PM Narendra Modi could achieve what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru dreamt of, with respect to the Triple Talaq Bill.
In an interview to DailyO, Khan has hailed the step to criminalise Triple Talaq by Prime Minister Modi. When asked if this decision vindicates his personal stand since even previously, the Supreme Court had delivered a similar verdict in the Shah Bano case which was later overturned by the Rajiv Gandhi led Parliament, Khan responded that personal vindication is not important for him.
“But I can tell you that when in the late 1950s, Taya Zinkin, the chief correspondent of the Guardian, asked Pandit Nehru as to what he considers his greatest achievement, he replied: I was able to secure rights for my Hindu sisters which were denied to them for centuries.
She further asked about his greatest disappointment and Panditji said: I was not able to do the same for my Muslim sisters.
I am sure Panditji, wherever he may be, would be immensely pleased with Narendra Modi for having accomplished what Panditji had dreamed for”.
When Khan was asked whether the opposition was indulging in Muslim appeasement as alleged by the BJP, Arif Mohammad Khan said that he wouldn’t like to comment on these issues, but one thing is for sure that the opposition parties opposed the Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha under the influence of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. He added that this was a stark reminder of how the Shah Bano verdict was treated and overturned in the Parliament where a woman was awarded a small sum of Rs. 300.
Interestingly, when asked about the ‘state of secularism’ in India today, Khan said “Secularism as an idea with anti-religion overtones is a western concept — in India, our founding fathers repeatedly made it clear that our secularism is rooted in the ancient Indian way of life that is ‘Ekam Sad Vipra Bahudha Vadanti’: the truth is one and it is perceived variously”.
He said even repeated invasions haven’t been able to change our ethos and our culture has the resilience to prevail. Khan also said that violence is the symptom of the disease of the divide in the society which needs to be cured with education and administrative policies.
Khan went on about the evil of Triple Talaq and the duplicity of Muslim parties. He said that after the Supreme Court judgement, the Muslim Law Board openly rejected the judgement and asserted that the practice would still go on. In fact, there were 100s of cases of Triple Talaq reported even after the judgement, however, after the Modi government promulgated an ordinance deeming Triple Talaq a criminal offence, there have been no such cases. He urged that not every issue should be politicised.
About how BJP is using Triple Talaq Bill as a poll plank to woo a section of the minorities, Khan said that he sees nothing wrong with appealing to voters with something humanitarian and good that the government had done. He also added Muslim women would only thank PM Narendra Modi for ending this evil practice.
Arif Mohammad Khan also exposed the duplicity of so-called Muslim and ‘secular’ parties. He said that he refused to believe that BJP is ‘communal’ and Owaisi and Muslim League are ‘secular’. He said that the Jamaat-e-Islami’s constitution itself says that they want to establish a religion based government in India and the founder, Maulana Maudoodi, is on record having reportedly said that he does not care if Indian Muslims are reduced to the status of shudras.
Khan told DailyO, “For the Jamaat, secularism in Pakistan is Kufr (disbelief or heresy) and in India, they pose as promoters of secularism. But we are living in the age of the internet and this hypocrisy will not work anymore”.