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Mentally ‘Paralyzed’ Owaisi


RAWpapaya
by Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld

 


Owaisi-fnbworld-satya pal singh

 

What manner of parallel and justification is AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi trying to draw, linking the Jallikattu ban controversy to the debate surrounding the contentious Uniform Civil Code? Owaisi says in his tweet that no uniform law can be imposed in India as people don't have a single culture here. He emphasizes on the need for "celebrating all cultures" Does he have those parts of these cultures in mind that allow rampant discrimination in society? Let him first identify that load of discrimination before talking of celebration or of building a foolproof case against any uniform law.


Yes, he is absolutely right in his assertion that every culture must be celebrated. But then he must be sure that the culture he wants to celebrate and is pleading for, is not discriminatory and doesn't impinge on someone else's rights. We in India have been celebrating all cultures for generations, in some cases, without even caring to know whether or not these cultures cruelly play with the sentiments of some sections within communities. We must first settle here on what constitutes a true, right culture that becomes worth celebrating. I believe Owaisi, and all those on the same page with him, will agree on this.



But Owaisi's drawing Jallikattu sport parallel to the proposed UCC comes as a wholly infantile and immature logic. Jallikattu has been a Dravidian cultural tradition for centuries which involves "playing" with bulls that Tamils love and care for as they have been parts of their lives. But in these modern times, where cruelty to animals has become a criminal offence in law, this "playful sport" invariably turning cruel to the bulls, naturally started drawing people's ire, even though in rare cases. Strong voices, including from animal right activists, began to rise against the "sport" which by now is said to have taken several young lives. In bull races, terrified animals are kicked, punched, jumped on, dragged to the ground and woefully tormented.


Marina Beach protesters were perhaps unaware that the first case against Jallikattu was filed by a Tamil man whose son got smothered in the event. In fact, the bull in this sport becomes ferocious while being harassed and teased too much in the midst of a milling crowd that enjoys the bull's angry behaviour and its forceful run for life. Many Jillakattu players, mostly young ones, sustain severe injuries. So, when courts were approached repeatedly against this cruelty to animals and the risk involved to human lives, Jallikattu was finally banned by the Supreme Court. Is then, there a justification to ask why this sport was banned? If after the prolonged Tamilian protest to save an old culture, the ban on Jallikattu is being lifted now, it's because an ordinance comes with certain guidelines on do's and don'ts to keep the sport safe, unable to cause cruelty to the animal or injuries to the players. So the sport, being part of an old Tamilian culture, is allowed to continue without hurting anyone's sentiments.


It is, however, difficult to understand how cleverly Owaisi has brought in Jallikattu to write off the need for the contentious civil code which mainly is aimed at undoing spiteful discrimination wherever it exists in society. Who will not agree that a secular republic should have a common civil law for its citizens, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion? The Narendra Modi Govt feels that in the absence of a uniform criminal law, where does the principle of equality before law stand? And why should not there be gender justice in society, as the personal laws of many religions are inconceivably discriminatory to women, verging indisputably on cruelty and invasion on their dignity. The move to enact a new, people-friendly civil code is being opposed by some minority organizations, claiming that this will impinge on their right to freedom of religion.


Understandably, when it comes to enforcing equality and uniformity in law for the entire society as diverse as ours, it may be difficult to take a middle path on civil matters, such as marriage, adoption, divorce, inheritance, succession, etc, as purely personal matters, don't have much to do with state policy. Since in our society various communities are governed by different personal laws, having different traditions and customs, uniformity will hardly be possible to arrive at. But when it comes to enforcing equality to citizens, all discrimination, wherever it exists, needs to be removed by the authority of law, no matter how much civil resistance it faces. The state must treat it citizens equally, irrespective of what be their beliefs, religions, castes and genders. It should not allow any discrimination to perpetuate in society that becomes a cause for others’ torture. Each individual deserves to get his or her uniform rights and gender justice.


Our personal laws must, therefore, be non-discriminatory. If in our patriarchal society, personal laws of many communities don't provide justice to women, why cannot state bring laws to undo those injustices? All discriminatory personal laws must be suitably amended, overriding all objections from respective religions and faiths. For instance, the ‘triple talaq’ system in Muslim community clearly heaps gross injustice on women. Has it anything to do with religion? In many Muslim countries this regressive practice has been banned. Let the man pronounce "talaq" three times and the wife is divorced. How cruel it sounds! Many countries have even banned polygamy. Why can't we, then, have 'one nation, one law' policy? 


Recently, even as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board launched a nationwide drive to collect signatures of people “to save and protect Shariat Laws” related to marriage, divorce and inheritance, women’s rights groups promptly came up with a counter-campaign. The signature war erupted against the backdrop of the Law Commission’s move to get feedback on the contentious UCC, a set of identical civil laws, and a government affidavit in the Supreme Court opposing ‘triple talaq’ and polygamy among Muslims on the ground that they discriminate against women. Everyone knows Muslim women hate this practice, but most don't have courage to speak against it. For instance, one woman, who has filed a case in a Patna court against her husband for divorcing her, says : "It’s not easy to defy the men in our society.”


Owaisi as a leader of his community must know a new law is essential to protect the rights of Muslim women. It's better Muslims agree to undo this unethical discrimination before their women emerge in mass public protests. Why is Owaisi not speaking aloud and with force to undo at least this injustice to Muslim women first, before jumping to jallikattu culture, citing it as a parallel to the known discriminatory Muslim practices which their own great mass of women resent and despise?

 







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