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‘सबरीमला की शुचिता भंग करने की साम्यवादी साजिश’ in Punjab Kesari

सबरीमला में केरल सरकार अयप्पा भक्तों और विशेषकर महिला भक्तों के साथ जो व्यवहार कर रही है वो निंदनीय है। मुख्यमंत्री पिनराई विजयन का रवैया मुलायम सिंह यादव के 1990 के उस आदेश की याद ताजा करता है जिसमें उन्होंने पुलिस को अयोध्या में निहत्थे रामभक्तों पर गोली चलाने का आदेश दिया। मुस्लिम वोटों की खातिर लिए गए इस फैसले में कितने भक्त मारे गए, कितनों की लाशें बिना अंतिम संस्कार सरयु में बहा दी गईं और कितने लापता हुए, किसी ने ढंग से इसकी जांच करवाने की जहमत तक नहीं उठाई।

केरल सरकार की तानाशाही सात नवंबर, 1966 की याद भी बरबस दिला देती है जब इंदिरा गांधी सरकार ने गौहत्या पर प्रतिबंध की मांग कर रहे प्रदर्शनकारियों पर गोलियां बरसाने का आदेश दिया। एक रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक इसमें 375 लोग मारे गए, परंतु प्रत्यक्षदर्शियों के अनुसार जलियांवाला बाग से भी बदतर इस कांड में 10,000 से अधिक हिंदू शहीद हुए। ध्यान रहे संविधान के नीति निर्देशक तत्वों के अनुच्छेद 48 में सरकार से गौहत्या पर प्रतिबंध लगाने की अपेक्षा की गई है।

हम लौट कर केरल की घटना पर आते हैं। 18 नवंबर को अयप्पा के सैकड़ों भक्त सत्संग के लिए एकत्र हुए। पुलिस ने इन पर धारा 144 का उल्लंघन करने के नाम पर बेरहमी से लाठियां और पत्थर बरसाए और इनका सामान लूट लिया। सैकड़ों महिला और पुरूष भक्तों को आतंकियों की तरह थाने में रखा गया फिर उन्हें 10 दिन की न्यायिक हिरासत में भेज दिया गया। इस दौरान उन्हें मूलभूत सुविधाओं से भी वंचित रखा गया।

विश्व हिंदू परिषद के संयुक्त महासचिव सुरेंद्र जैन कहते हैं, “पुलिस जिस निर्दयता से भक्तों पर प्रहार कर रही थी, उससे लग रहा था कि जैसे भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी, माक्र्सवादी (सीपीएम) के गुंडों ने ही पुलिस की वर्दी पहन ली है। ये न तो आदिल शाही निजाम है न सोवियत संघ में स्टालिन का शासन, नेताओं को जनता के प्रति जवाबदेह होना ही पड़ेगा।”

वो आगे कहते हैं, ”सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेश के बहाने, मुख्यमंत्री विजयन, अयप्पा के गरीब भक्तों को आतंकित कर रहे हैं, तानाशाह जैसा व्यवहार कर रहे हैं। उनकी पुलिस तो महिलाओं तक को नहीं बख्श रही, उनपर हमले कर रही है और भोजन-पानी भी नहीं दे रही। विजयन ने सारी सीमाएं लांघ दी हैं। हम केंद्र सरकार से मांग करते हैं कि वो तुरंत केरल सरकार को बर्खास्त करे, अन्यथा हम केरल में ही नहीं, पूरे देश में विरोध प्रदर्शन करेंगे।”

वहीं केद्रीय जहाजरानी एवं वित्त राज्य मंत्री पोन राधाकृष्णन आरोप लगाते हैं कि केरल सरकार ने सबरीमला को युद्ध का मैदान बना दिया है। चारों ओर किलेबंदी कर दी गई है। वो कहते हैं, ”मंदिर का दृश्य देख का कलेजा फट जाता है, वो वीरान पड़ा है। पहले वहां हर समय भजन कीर्तन चलता रहता था, लेकिन अब उसकी स्थिति शोक भवन जैसी हो गई है। उसका रखरखाव भी ठीक से नहीं किया जा रहा। पुलिस अधिकारी भक्तों के साथ अमानवीय व्यवहार कर रहे हैं। पहले वहां कोई जूते पहन कर नहीं जाता था, लेकिन अब लोग वहां जूते पहन कर भी जा रहे हैं।” 21 नवंबर को जब राधाकृष्णन मंदिर जा रहे थे तो पांबा (मंदिर का प्रवेश स्थल) तक निजी वाहन ले जाने देने की अनुमति न देने पर उनकी पुलिस अधीक्षक यतीश चंद्र से भी झड़प हुई। इसके बाद वो विरोध स्वरूप सार्वजनिक बस से ही मंदिर गए। वो कहते हैं, ”केरल सरकार नहीं चाहती कि भक्त मंदिर जाएं इसलिए उसने सुविधाएं कम दी हैं और दर्शन का समय भी सीमित कर दिया है।“

जैसी की आशंका थी, सबरीमला में राज्य सरकार के बर्बरतपूर्ण रवैये के बाद केरल में ही नहीं, अन्य राज्यों में भी विरोध शुरू हो गया है। राधाकृष्णन कन्याकुमारी से सांसद हैं, उनके अपमान के विरोध में भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने 23 तारीख को बंद का आयोजन किया। इससे पहले 21 नवंबर को चिकमंगलूर में भाजपा कार्यकर्ताओं ने पार्टी सदस्यों और अयप्पा भक्तों पर निर्दय हमले के खिलाफ विरोध प्रदर्शन किया। अयप्पा भक्तों पर अत्याचार तथा दर्शन और भक्ति पर तरह-तरह की रूकावटें लगाने के विरूद्ध विश्व हिंदू परिषद भी देशव्यापी आंदोलन की चेतावनी दे चुकी है।

सबरीमला मसले पर मुख्यमंत्री विजयन आखिर सुप्रीम कोर्ट के फैसले का इतनी शिद्दत से  समर्थन क्यों कर रहे हैं? क्यों उन्होंने इसके विरूद्ध पुनर्विचार याचिक न दायर करने का निर्णय लिया? इसके पीछे भी कुछ कारण हैं। असल में इस पूरे प्रकरण में उनकी दिलचस्पी ‘महिलाओं को अधिकार दिलाने’ में कम और प्रमुख प्रतिद्वंद्वी कांग्रेस नीत यूनाइटेड डेमोक्रेटिक फ्रंट के हिंदू वोट बैंक में संेध लगाना अधिक है। उनके लिए राजनीति इतनी महत्वपूर्ण है कि वो इसके लिए सबरीमला की शुचिता और परंपराओं की बलि चढ़ाने के लिए भी तैयार हैं। हाल ही में उन्होंने केरल हाई कोर्ट को सुझाव दिया कि अगर भक्त अपना रवैया नहीं बदलते तो राजस्वला महिलाओं के अयप्पा दर्शन के लिए दो दिन नियत कर देने चाहिए। यानी वो किसी भी कीमत पर अयप्पा भक्तों के विश्वास को कुचलने पर आमादा हैं।

उन्हें लगता है कि इस विवाद से भले ही भारतीय जनता पार्टी को कुछ सीटें मिल जाएं, लेकिन इससे कांग्रेस को दीर्घकालिक और स्थायी नुकसान पहुंचाया जा सकता है। शायद यही वजह है कि वो आजकल अपनी सभाओं में भाजपा और कांग्रेस पर सांठगांठ का आरोप लगा रहे हैं। यही नहीं, उन्होंने सबरीमला मुद्दे पर हिंदुओं को तोड़ने की कोशिश भी की है। उन्होंने हिंदुओं के सबसे बड़े जातीय समूह एजावास के नेता और श्री नारायण धर्म परिपालना योगम (एसएनडीपी) के महासचिव वेल्लापल्ली नटेशन को अपने पक्ष में बयान देने के लिए उकसाया। लेकिन उनके पुत्र और भारतीय धर्म जन सेना (बीडीजेएस) के प्रमुख तुषार वेल्लापल्ली सरकार का जमकर विरोध कर रहे हैं। आश्चर्य नहीं, अधिकांश बीडीजेएस कार्यकर्ता तुषार का समर्थन कर रहे हैं। उधर हिंदुओं का एक अन्य प्रमुख संगठन नायर सर्विस सोसायटी (एनएसएस) भी सरकार से लोहा लेने के लिए तैयार है।

परस्पर विरोधी रूख के बावजूद मुख्यमंत्री विजयन ने घोषणा की है कि वो सबरीमला में शांति बहाली के लिए एसएनडीपी, एनएसएस आदि हिंदू जातीय समूहों की बैठक बुलाएंगे। उन्होंने अपने साप्ताहिक टेलीविजन प्रसारण में कहा कि राज्य को ‘आदियुग’ में ले जाने की कोशिश की जा रही है, इसके खिलाफ उन सभी ताकतों को एकजुट हो जाना चाहिए जिन्होंने ‘पुनर्जागरण’ के लिए संघर्ष किया। सवाल ये है कि क्या सबरीमला मंदिर में सैकड़ों वर्षों से चली आ रही परंपराओं का पालन राज्य को ‘आदियुग’ में ले जाना है? सुप्रीम कोर्ट का आदेश आने से पहले तक जो परंपरा ‘आदियुगीन’ नहीं थी वो अचानक कैसे ‘आदियुगीन’ हो गई? सोचने की बात है कि क्या सीपीएम नीत लेफ्ट डेमोक्रेटिक फ्रंट को हजारों अयप्पा भक्तों ने वोट नहीं दिया होगा? क्या उसे वोट देने वाले सभी भक्त ‘आदियुगीन’ थे?

सीपीएम का ये कैसा पुनर्जागरण है जो सिर्फ हिंदुओं पर ही लागू होता है, जबकि पाॅपुलर फ्रंट आॅफ इंडिया के इस्लामिक आतंकियों को समर्थन देता है और राज्य के मल्लपुरम जैसे मुस्लिम बहुल इलाकों में मनमाने हिंदू विरोधी नियमों को खामोशी से स्वीकृति देता है? क्या ये सीपीएम के पुनर्जागरण का नतीजा है कि आईएस में सबसे अधिक भारतीय मुसलमान केरल से ही गए हैं और सबसे ज्यादा लव जिहाद के मामले भी वहां हुए हैं? आपको याद दिला दें कि पुनर्जागरण की गुहार लगाने वाले विजयन वही व्यक्ति हैं जिन्होंने 2009 के आम चुनावों में मुसलमानों के वोट हासिल करने के लिए आतंकी मामले में जेल काट चुके पीपल्स डेमोक्रेटिक पार्टी के कट्टरवादी नेता अब्दुल नासेर मदनी से हाथ मिलाया था। क्या ये इसी पुनर्जागरण का नतीजा है कि सबसे अधिक हिंदू केरल में ही ईसाई बनाए गए? केरल में भारतीय जनता पार्टी और राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के सैकड़ों कार्यकर्ताओं की नृशंस हत्याएं क्या इसी ‘पुनर्जागरण’ का परिणाम हैं? अचरज नहीं कि स्वयं विजयन पर संघ के कार्यकर्ता और मुख्य शिक्षक रामकृष्णन की हत्या का आरोप लग चुका है।

हिंदुओं को पुनर्जागरण सिखाने से पहले ये महत्वपूर्ण तथ्य भी ध्यान में रखा जाना चाहिए कि केरल के अधिसंख्य हिंदू मातृसत्तत्मक परिवार व्यवस्था का पालन करते हैं जहां पुरूषों की अपेक्षा महिलाओं को हर क्षेत्र में प्रधानता दी जाती है। केरल के पुरूष सैकड़ोें वर्षों से इस व्यवस्था को सम्मान के साथ मानते चले आ रहे हैं। पश्चिम में इजाद किए गए ‘फैमिनिज्म’ से बहुत पहले से ही केरल में महिलाओं को सिर्फ बराबरी का ही नहीं, पुरूषों से भी ऊंचा दर्जा हासिल रहा है। ऐसे में सीपीएम का आयातित ‘पुनर्जागरण’ राज्य की महिलाओं का क्या भला करेगा? वैसे भी विजयन को याद दिलाना बेहतर होगा कि केरल में ही अत्तुकल मंदिर और चक्कूलातुकवू मंदिर भी है जिनमें सिर्फ महिलाओं को ही पूजा करने की अनुमति है। अत्तुकल मंदिर में वर्ष में एक बार अत्तुकल पोंगल समारोह होता है जिसमें दस लाख से भी अधिक महिलाएं भाग लेती हैं। महिलाओं के सबसे बड़े जमावड़े के लिए इसका नाम गिनीज बुक में भी दर्ज है।

अब थोड़ा विचार सबरीमला पर सुप्रीम कोर्ट के फैसले पर भी किया जाए। राजस्वला महिलाओं के मंदिर प्रवेश निषेध को अदालत ने महिलाओं के अधिकारों के खिलाफ माना है। लेकिन सबरीमला के नियम संविधान के विरूद्ध नहीं हैं। वहां महिलाओं को प्रवेश की अनुमति है। वहां राजस्वला महिलाओं के प्रवेश निषेध के पीछे जो कारण है उनका तर्क और परिप्रेक्ष्य समझना होगा। भारत में समस्या ये है कि हमने आंख मूंद कर पश्चिमी शिक्षा और न्याय पद्धति अपना ली है। यही नहीं, हमने राजनीतिक विचारधाराएं भी पश्चिम से किराए पर ली हैं। हम ये नहीं कहते कि हर पश्चिमी चीज बुरी है, मगर इतना तो कहना ही होगा कि उनकी सीमा भी है।

अगर सुप्रीम कोर्ट सबरीमला मामले में सिर्फ ‘महिलाओं के अधिकारों’ के तर्क से ऊपर उठ कर ये जानने की जहमत उठाता कि जो नियम बनाया गया है उसका वैज्ञानिक और तार्किक आधार क्या है तो संभव है कि वो वह फैसला नहीं देता जो उसने दिया। लेकिन मंदिरांे के वास्तु, ऊर्जा संचार, प्राणप्रतिष्ठा और उनके महिलाओं पर प्रभाव आदि विषय ऐसे हैं जिनके लिए उसे भारतीय शास्त्रों को भी पढ़ना पढ़ता जो उसने नहीं पढ़े। उसने तीन तलाक मामले में जैसे इस्लामिक धर्मगुरूओं से घंटों तक चर्चा की अगर वैसे ही हिंदू विद्वानों से भी थोड़ी देर बात कर ली होती तो उसे पता लग जाता कि राजस्वला महिलाओं को लेकर जो नियम बनाया गया है, उसका तर्क और वैज्ञानिक आधार क्या है। बात सीधी सी है – ऐसा तो नहीं है न कि जो बात आपको पता नहीं, उसका अस्तित्व ही न हो, वह सही भी न हो।

सबरीमला में राजस्वला महिलाओं के प्रवेश निषेध के लिए जो मिथकीय कारण बताया जाता है वो ये है कि अयप्पा बाल ब्रह्मचारी हैं, इसलिए वो राजस्वला महिलाओं से दूर रहते हैं। ध्यान रहे हिंदू धर्म में ब्रह्मचर्य का अर्थ है अपनी यौन ऊर्जा को ऐसी ऊर्जा में परिवर्तित करना जो आध्यात्मिक ज्ञानोदय में प्रयुक्त हो सके। यहां ब्रह्मचर्य की अवधारणा पश्चिम से अलग है जहां इसका एक ही मतलब है – यौन संबंधों से दूर रहना।

प्रवेश निषेध के पीछे कुछ अन्य कारण भी बताए जाते हैं जैसे सबरीमला क्षेत्र में गुरूत्वाकर्षण सामान्य से अधिक है जिससे गर्भवती महिलाओं का गर्भ गिर सकता है। एक अन्य कारण ये भी बताया जाता है कि राजस्वला महिलाओं की उपस्थिति मंदिर परिसर की ऊर्जा पर नकारात्मक असर डालती है। भारतीय शास्त्रों के अनुसार मंदिर अपने वास्तु और प्रयुक्त सामग्रियों के आधार पर ऊर्जा प्रवाह निर्मित करते हैं जो भक्तों के ऊर्जा प्रवाह और सकारात्मकता को बढ़ाता और सुदृढ़ करते हैं। मंदिर में मूर्तियों की प्राण प्रतिष्ठा भी एक माध्यम है उनमें ऊर्जा का संचार करने का। मंदिर महिलाओं के मासिक चक्र में कैसे असर डालते हैं इसका एक उदाहरण केरल का ही भगवती मंदिर है। चेंगन्नूर स्थित इस मंदिर में महिलाएं बांझपन अथवा मासिक धर्म की गड़बड़ियों से मुक्ति के लिए जाती हैं और अपनी समस्यों से छुटकारा भी पाती हैं।

आतंकी अफजल गुरू, अर्बन नक्सलियों आदि के मुकदमों पर सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने जैसी तत्परता दिखाई, वैसी न तो सबरीमला मामले में दिखाई दी और न ही अयोध्या मामले में। ऐसे में हिंदू समाज में बेचैनी स्वाभाविक है, सुप्रीम कोर्ट की मंशा पर संदेह करना लाजमी है। उम्मीद करते हैं कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट सबरीमला मामले में दायर की गई पुनर्विचार याचिकाओं पर जल्द फैसला लेगा और ऐसा करते समय हिंदू ज्ञान-विज्ञान और उसका पालन करवाने के लिए बनाए गए नियमों का भी सम्मान करेगा।

‘मी टू’ और रिवर्स तालीबनाइजेशन का खतरा in Punjab Kesari

‘मी टू’ के कारण समाज में जैसे भूचाल आ गया है। ऐसे मौके पर हिंदी फिल्म दाग के गाने का मुखड़ा याद आता है – जब भी जी चाहे नई दुनिया बसा लेते हैं लोग, एक चेहरे पर कई चेहरे लगा लेते हैं लोग। कब कहां किसका असली चेहरा बेनकाब होगा, किसका मुखौटा नोच फेंका जाएगा, हर ओर भय मिश्रित आशंका है। लोग अपने नजदीकी रिश्तेदारों को भी संदेह की नजर से देखने लगे हैं। अधिसंख्य लोग इसे आधुनिक भारतीय नारी के साहस और संघर्ष का प्रतीक मान रहे हैं। जब अमेरिका में ‘मी टू’ का बवंडर उठा था तो यहां लोगों ने सोचा था कि भारत में ऐसा कुछ होना असंभव है क्योंकि भारतीय नारी भले ही कितनी आधुनिक क्यों न हो वो ऐसे विषय सार्वजनिक रूप से नहीं उठाएगी क्योंकि इससे कहीं न कहीं उसकी खुद की छवि भी धूमिल होगी।

लेकिन अंततः हमने देखा कि भारत भी ‘मी टू’ तूफान से अछूता नहीं रहा। टेलीविजन और फिल्मों से शुरू हुआ ये अभियान आखिरकार विश्वविद्यालयों, मीडिया से होता हुआ राजनीति तक भी पहुंचा और इस चक्कर में विदेश राज्य मंत्री एम जे अकबर और एनएसयूआई अध्यक्ष फिरोज खान को अपनी गद्दी भी गंवानी पड़ी। कांग्रेस ने अगर अकबर का मामला उठाया तो भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने राहुल पर बलात्कार का आरोप लगाने वाली सुकन्या देवी, सेक्स सीडी कांड में फंसे अभिषेक मनु सिंघवी और संदिग्ध हालात में मारी गई शशि थरूर की पत्नी सुनंदा पुष्कर का मामला जोर-शोर से उठाया। इस बीच महिला एवं बाल विकास मंत्री मेनका गांधी ने सभी राजनीतिक दलों को सुझाव दे डाला कि वो महिलाओं के साथ होने वाली ज्यादतियों की जांच के लिए प्रकोष्ठ बनाएं ताकि काॅरपोरेट सेक्टर जैसे उनके यहां भी ऐसे मामलों की सुनवाई हो सके और पीड़िताओं को न्याय मिल सके।

आधुनिकता का सारा दर्शन, राजनीति, सुझाव और सुझाव देने वाली समिति का विचार एक तरफ, ये पूरा प्रकरण कई अन्य गंभीर सवाल भी उठाता है। कुछ लोग इसे पुरूषवादी सोच कह सकते हैं लेकिन चाहे एससी-एसटी एक्ट का मामला हो या दहेज कानून के सख्त प्रावधानों का, स्वयं सुप्रीम कोर्ट ये कह चुका है कि बिना पर्याप्त आधार के, महज शिकायत की बिना पर किसी की गिरफ्तारी नहीं होनी चाहिए। लेकिन यहां तो हम देखते हैं कि कथित आरोपियों का पूरा का पूरा मीडिया ट्रायल चल रहा है। कानून का एक नियम है – जब तक व्यक्ति दोषी न साबित हो, वो निर्दोष है। यहां तो पुलिस में एफआईआर भी दर्ज नहीं होती और महज एक सोशल मीडिया पोस्ट के बूते पर व्यक्ति का मानमर्दन आरंभ हो जाता है, सुर्खियां बन जाती हैं, लोग चटखारे ले-ले कर चर्चा शुरू कर देते हैं।

ऐसे में सहज ही ये विचार आता है कि इस पूरी कार्यवाही का उद्देश्य आखिर क्या है – भड़ास निकालना, समाज को सतर्क करना, न्याय पाना, किसी को लांछित करना, बदला लेना या सिर्फ विवाद खड़ा करना? गंभीरता से सोचें तो ‘मी टू’ से किसी को शीघ्रता से न्याय मिलने की अपेक्षा करना तो उचित नहीं होगा, हां इससे बदला अवश्य लिया जा सकता है, किसी को बदनाम अवश्य किया जा सकता है, अगर कोई सोचता है कि विवाद खड़ा करके और सुर्खियां बटोर कर न्याय हासिल किया जा सकता है, तो ये व्यर्थ ही होगा। न्याय तो फिर भी स्थायी संतोष दे सकता है, सुर्खियों का क्या? आज हैं, कल नहीं।

भारतीय इतिहास में ‘नो मी नाॅट’ के असंख्य प्रसंग हैं जब हमारी बहादुर नारियांे ने अत्याचारियों का जमकर प्रतिकार किया और जरूरत पड़ी तो मौत को भी गले लगाया। चाहें रामायण हो या महाभारत, भारत के इन दोनों प्रमुख महाग्रंथों के मूल में नारी ही है। रामायण में रावण के आतंक के बावजूद सीता हार नहीं मानतीं, वहीं महाभारत में दुर्योधन के दंभ और लिप्सा के कारण चीरहरण का शिकार होने वाली द्रौपदी आखिरकार बदला लेकर ही रहती हैं। सवाल ये उठता है और ये निःसंदेह बड़ा सवाल है कि आज ‘मी टू’ के तहत सामने आने वाली महिलाएं तब क्यों नहीं बोलीं जब उनके साथ कथित तौर पर ज्यादती की जा रही थी? अगर वो तब आवाज उठातीं, तो संभव है वो कुछ और महिलाओं को भी कथित खलनायक का शिकार होने से बचा पातीं? जिस समय इनके साथ कथित ज्यादती हुई, तब ज्यादातर महिलाएं व्यस्क थीं, पढ़ी-लिखी थीं, पूरे होशो-हवास में थीं कि ज्यादती का तुरंत विरोध करतीं। अगर इन्हें वास्तव में ‘ज्यादती’ इतनी बुरी लग रही थी तो इन्होंने उसी समय तुरंत उस व्यक्ति का झापड़ क्यों नहीं रसीद किया या थाने जा कर रिपोर्ट नहीं लिखवाई? हम ये नहीं कहते कि ये महिलाएं खुद्दार नहीं हैं, लेकिन क्या किसी खुद्दार महिला को तुरंत प्रतिकार नहीं करना चाहिए? उसे बीस साल तक क्यों इंतजार करना चाहिए?

अगर कोई नासमझ बच्ची अपने साथ हुई ज्यादती का व्यस्क होने पर खुलासा करे तो समझ में आता है कि जब उसके साथ गलत हरकत हुई, तब शायद उसे उसका अर्थ भी नहीं मालूम था, लेकिन पूर्णतः शिक्षित, व्यस्क, खुद के आधुनिक होने का दावा करने वाली महिलाएं बीस साल बाद नींद से जागें तो थोड़ा अजीब लगता है। इन महिलाओं की मंशा पर भी संदेह पैदा होता है।

इस्मत चुगताई और सआदत हसन मंटो के फिल्मी किस्सों से लेकर आधुनिक फिल्मी पत्रिकाओं तक, ऐसे बेशुमार किस्से हमारे आपके सामने से गुजरे होंगे। कभी इसे ‘फेवर’ बोला गया तो कभी ‘कास्टिंग काउच’। जब तक निभे तब तक ‘लिव इन’, जब बिगड़े तो ‘बलात्कार’। आधुनिक भारत में स्त्री-पुरूष संबंधों में ‘नई सोच’ और ‘आक्रामक महिला समर्थक’ कानूनों ने नए आयाम जोड़े हैं। सेक्स से जुड़ी नैतिकता की पुरातनपंथी मान्याताएं लगभग हवा हो चुकी हैं। पहले जहां पुरूष बादशाह होता था वो अब ‘रिसीविंग एंड’ पर आ गया है।

समाज आज शायद ये समझ नहीं पा रहा, कि पहले आक्रामक महिला समर्थक कानूनों और अब ‘मी टू’ जैसे अभियानों के कारण आम महिलाओं की मुश्किलें कितनी बढ़ गईं हैं। कभी आपने गौर किया कि अचानक ऐसी संस्थाओं की संख्या कितनी बढ़ गई है जिसमें सिर्फ पुरूषों को काम दिया जाता है और महिलाओं के लिए दरवाजे सदा के लिए बंद कर दिए गए हैं। ये एक किस्म का ‘रिवर्स तालिबनाइजेशन’ हो रहा है। पुरूषों और महिलाओं के बीच सहजता तेजी से खत्म होती जा रही है। महिलाओं के लिए अवश्य ही सुरक्षित माहौल होना चाहिए, लेकिन पुरूषों का क्या? एक शिकायत के बाद उन्हें जेल भेज देना चाहिए या एक सोशल मीडिया पोस्ट के बाद उनके जीवन भर के यश को मिट्टी में मिला देना चाहिए? सेक्स एक स्वाभाविक-प्राकृतिक भावना है। कभी किसी ने सोचा कि अगर ऐसे ही चलता रहा तो स्त्री और पुरूष कैसे अपनी भावना की अभिव्यक्ति कर पाएंगे? ऐसे बंद समाज के क्या दीर्घकालिक परिणाम होंगे?

न तो हम महिलाओं पर ज्यादतियों का समर्थन करते हैं और न ही उनकी न्याय की आकांक्षा का, लेकिन हम कानूनों का दुरूपयोग रोकने के पक्ष में अवश्य हैं। भारत के लगभग हर सरकारी विभाग और काॅरपोरेट में ऐसे प्रकोष्ठ बनाए गए हैं जहां महिलाएं ज्यादतियों की शिकायत कर सकती हैं, लेकिन आश्यर्य है कि दुनिया को जागरूक बनाने का दावा करने वाले मीडिया में ऐसे प्रकोष्ठ देखने को नहीं मिलते। यही हाल फिल्म और टीवी जगत का भी है। बेहतर होगा कि वहां भी परिस्थितियों के अनुसार ऐसी व्यवस्थाएं विकसित की जाएं। महिलाओं को सुरक्षा तो मिले ही, लेकिन मिथ्या आरोप लगाने वाली महिलाओं को सजा और पुरूषों को हर्जाना भी मिले।

“#MeToo: Keeping silent v/s staying woke” in TOI Blogs

Legend it that the fate of truth and lie was irrevocably met with, on one fine day.

The lie says to the truth, “It’s a marvellous day today!”

Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful.

They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well.

The lie tells the truth: “The water is very nice let’s take a bath together!”

The truth tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice.

They undress and start bathing. Suddenly the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of truth and runs away. The furious truth comes out of the water and runs everywhere to find the lie and get her clothes back.

The world, seeing the truth naked; turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage. The poor truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, its shame.

Since then the lie travels the world dressed as truth, satisfying the needs of the society, because the World in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked truth. (excerpt taken from The Speaking Tree)

In the light of the #MeToo movement that has taken the nation by storm, truth and lie have become the two most talked of participants. Anyone who has seen Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon would understand how truth is a VIBGYOR and each colour has a story to tell. The allegations seem to be just about as complex. However, just the fear of false allegations should not hold us back, from instilling the fear of crime abetted. The crime of violating consent, misconduct, gangrapes are the most heinous and deserve to be brought to book at all costs.

Karl Marx and his sympathisers relegated women to the second or the lesser sphere and believed that in the scheme of things, women must become forbearers of this lesser sphere. They were to do their duty diligently and produce a score of children (read men) who would then go on to build an indestructible workforce or at least a Reserve Army. However convenient the explanation seemed for years gone by, women’s role in the society has transcended the sphere of being a child making factory. The new age workforce is a slap on the face of misogynistic societies. A transition is actively shaping up and therefore causing inconvenience to years of imbalanced power rhetoric. Women have come to occupy important roles in a plethora of professional spheres and are comfortably outdoing the age-old stereotypes.

The #MeToo movement is rather revolutionary as it hits the bull’s eye. For the first time in so long, more and more women are using the social media as a platform to unveil years of hidden trauma and hopelessness. We have lived in a society where the rich got away with most of the crimes, that the others had to inevitably bear the consequences of. It is ironical that it isn’t the justice system that is making people come forth and unleash their complaints, but rather social media, that has mostly been an inconvenient mirror to the society. This movement is making the society and its hierarchy of power and gender politics stand on their head.

Some men have apologised, some resigned, some are defiant and in turn have called it a reversed witch-hunt. A lot of men seem to sympathise with the alleged, calling women, sympathy seekers, drama queens and the sorts. Truth be told, these are the kind of reactions which strengthen our resolute in the fight against sexual assaults. Victim shaming has been the most played out card in history; unfortunately, it is no longer going to stub voices. The #MeToo movement has indeed given voice to the voiceless; power to the powerless.

Why is now the right time, you ask.

When an ambulance with an all-powerful siren, streams through the roads unhindered and yet reaches the hospital late, it comes under scanners. Not just the ambulance driver, traffic police, people’s civic sense, road structure, you name it and an avalanche of probabilistic reasons ascend.

Why then do we show apathy to justice delayed and often denied, when it comes to women survivors of rape and misconduct. After all, isn’t the physical, mental, and psychological health of women just as important, if not more?

Instead of questioning why women are opening up now and that too to social media, a gracious society would thank them for coming forth. However, media trials are only a channel for those who had their hands tied. Media trials do not constitute as a legal course of action.

It would be laughable to assume that these women coming out on social media are unaware of the same. It is taught in 8th standard school textbooks, that an FIR must be filed and in case it is not registered by the police, then one can approach the Magistrate. However robust our legal justice system is, as evident, it is inadequate in registering cases thus filed. The culture of inherent male chauvinism, victim shaming, abuse of power has made filing FIRs a lot more cumbersome. A responsible society must come forth to nip the issue in the bud. It begins with accepting that there is a web of entrenched issues to deal with.

The government of India has made it mandatory for every employer to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). Ministry of women and child development dedicated a portal of ‘She-Box’ where women can submit complaints. These proactive measures are certain outlets apart from filing an FIR.

It becomes all the more relevant now, to question whether it is indeed time for gender sensitisation courses to start at school level. For one, it is the role of the stakeholders to look into the crux of the problem. And we are all stakeholders in this society, parents, school teachers, social media influencers, advertisements, movies, government, corporate houses, professional office spaces, are each to follow a role set that makes them responsible citizens of the society.

Let us stop normalising errant behaviour, let us stop casually airing “Men will be Men” across TV and in everyday conversations. It is rightly said, “Spare the rod, and spoil the child” If parents and teachers do not step up and mould children right from their youth, it is likely that they would become deviant from the norms of the society. They often inculcate vices, growing up; transitioning from unchecked youth to belligerent adults.

This is a war against apathy, misogyny, chauvinism; it is not a war between men and women, it is not about Bollywood v/s Hollywood. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we become ‘Woke’. Let us all aim for ‘Justice sans Frontiers’.

“Female Genital Mutilation: A millennial crime” in TOI Blog

It is commonplace knowledge that Islam preaches circumcision, a form of male genital mutilation as a tenet and a sacrament of Islamic practices however little do people know about the equally practiced female genital mutilation.

Under the garb of sacrosanct religious diktats, the Dawoodi Bohra community is obstinate to continue the sublime horror of FGM (Female Genital mutilation) The Bohra high priest vehemently favours this custom, rendering religious justification for its continuation.

While in the West, actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, Uma Thurman have actively engaged in the campaign ‘Me too’ A movement against sexual harassment and assault.

India is rather taking a snail’s pace in the domain. However, Actress Nusrat Bharucha (Pyar ka panchnama actress) who belongs to the Bohra community and whose mother had undergone FGM has filed a petition and speaks vociferously against the custom.

Also known as ‘Haraam ki boti’ in native parlance, it translates to ‘the source of sin’ thereby validating the removal of ‘unwanted skin’.
It is believed that partial or total removal of the external female genitalia will enable individual hygiene, coupled with societal stabilization through controlled female sexual act.

Clitoral mutilation is carried out in these communities, between infancy and adolescence. But the more odious part is that it is carried out by untrained midwives and self-proclaimed experts from amongst the elders in the community.

The usage of instruments such as common knives and blades point out to medical apathy. Looming large over dismal medical procedure is the aftermath of extreme pain, continual bleeding and infections, probable cyst formation, sexual disorders. And it doesn’t stop at that, in severe cases it could lead to childbirth complications, worst comes to worst, even death.

It is presumed to take away excessive libido, prevent unpleasant odor, and ironically reduce urinary infection. However there are no medical records to ascertain this claim, much to the contrary, World Health Organization (WHO) along with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) issued a joint statement against the FGM in 1997.

In December 2012, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) came up with a resolution to eliminate FGM from the world. It has designated 6th February as the international day for Zero tolerance for FGM.

The sentiment is echoed by United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child (UNCRC) and the UN universal declaration of human rights, of which India is a signatory.

In the international arena, FGM is practiced in places such as Africa, South America and the Middle East. In the present day it has been banned in as far as 27 African countries, America, England, France and the general fervor seems to grow.

Closer home, a PIL has been filed, intervention applications are sprouting in the Supreme Court.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has taken cognizance of the clandestine act and regarded it to be a violation of the bodily integrity of the girl child. It was pointed out, why should anyone have the authority to access a girl’s private part, even if it is in the name of faith.

When the SC ascertained its stand, deeming it unacceptable, Congress politician and lawyer for the Bohra community, Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed that the practice is a thousand year old custom, adding on he said that since only a small section of the foreskin is removed, women do not face any complications and it is not any different from male circumcision. He backed the argument with the Right to religious freedom under article 25 as a basic fundamental right.

Central government’s attorney general K. K. Venugopal threw light upon the difference in FGM and MGM stating as a matter of fact that while the MGM may have benefits however the FGM must be out and out banned, not only is it futile, in most cases it leads to further irreversible complications.

Early in 2016, about 50 FGM survivors launched a month-long campaign in Mumbai ‘Each one reach one’ where experiences and accounts of unfortunate victims are shared on the online portal by women across the world.

A number of women have come forward to show their displeasure and cry out against the nefarious act.

Since most of the victims are minors due to the age frame within which the act is conducted, it is also a violation of the POCSO act.

Earlier this year in February came out the first qualitative study on FGM titled ‘The clitoralhood – a contested sight’ released by Masooma Ranalvi whose network ‘We Speak Out’ is the largest survivor-led movement to end female circumcision.

Statistics that stand testimony to the abhorrent practice revealed that near about 75% of all daughters of the study sample were subjected to FGM, 97% remembered the pain inflicted on them, 33% categorically pointed out that the painful memory remained with them much after they grew up.

As there are 2 sides to one coin, so there exists a fraction of women in the community The Dawoodi Bohra Women’s association which is crying foul against the elimination of the practice.

It is noteworthy however that some women of the community have joined hands in fighting against Triple Talaq, Nikah halala, Polygamy, FGM. But the apathy of politicization of atrocities is a matter of concern. Orthodox members of the Muslim community have made it their manifesto to keep every wrong act alive. And those vouching for Muslim votes are favoring even these wrongs.

The SC verdict is eagerly awaited; however a greater challenge than the SC verdict is societal acceptance.

In order to see real changes manifest in the society, it is the people’s understanding of human rights, scientific hygiene standards and adjustment of moral compass that need to take the front seat. And bigger than that is the victims’ bravery for they alone have to fight out against the atrocities they are subjected to. They alone need to recognize their rights and fight for them.

“Busting the myth: Women at greater risk of heart attack than men” in TOI Blog

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is thought of as a man’s disease, but this isn’t true. In fact it’s the number one leading cause of death in Indian women and the risk is eight times greater than that of breast cancer.

Another misconception is that CVD occurs above the age of 50, nowadays people in their early 30’s and living in the city are extremely susceptible to a sudden onset. Whatever age a woman is at it’s time to begin taking proactive measures for a strong and healthy heart.

Though it is true that women have a lesser risk to CVD it’s only before menopause. The natural production of estrogen in women protects the heart, delaying the risk of having a heart attack by 10 to 15 years later than men.

After menopause the significant drop in estrogen puts women at a much greater risk than men. Women whose menses began before the age of 11, or became menopausal at the age of 47 or below are at greater risk of a heart attack, so are women who have recurrent miscarriages.

About 12% of people that have a heart attack in India are below the age of 40, which is double the number in the West. City life puts people at 3 times the risk due to lack of excursion which results in diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and many other factors which are stronger causes of heart attack in women than in men.

South Asian women are at great risk of cardiovascular disease as they are unlikely to receive timely intervention as compared to men. South-Asian women tend to be lax when it comes to taking care of themselves, as the age old adage of putting the family first and foremost is carried forward through centuries.

Women of our nation have the habit of brushing pain aside, after all the greatest pain felt by a woman is during the birth of a child and comparatively everything else is ‘discomfort’.

The biggest problem is the lack of awareness that heart disease in women doesn’t always manifest itself as it does in men; often times there is no conventional angina pain on the left arm or left chest that occurs. The symptoms of heart disease in women could be pain in the jaw, back pain, or trouble breathing which could be ignored as something trivial; even if she goes to a clinic or hospital there is a chance of it being overlooked by a doctor.

Cardiovascular disease is preventable and corrective measures should be taken immediately. Regular checkups of cholesterol levels, removing all trans-fats, taking alcohol in limited amounts, and exercising regularly for 30 minutes a day can prove to be mighty beneficial.

Focus on diet is the greatest boon, taking a good daily amount of fruits and vegetables, dried nuts, and good cholesterol producing fats can provide multiple benefits. These preventative measures can combat multiple diseases such as the commonly plaguing thyroid, diabetes and high blood pressure. Simple yet life-changing alterations to diet and lifestyle will not rob a child of a mother, and a husband from his beloved wife.

“Being Sridevi: An abundance of love, humility & self-sacrifice” in TOI Blogs

India’s first female superstar and Padma Shri Awardee, Sridevi, has been cremated with state honours.

Wrapped in the Tricolor, in a hearse draped with garlands, she was given a gun salute before her last journey. Thousands of mourners clamored to catch a last glimpse of the country’s most powerful actress, a heroine who ensnared watchers of the silver screen with her enamoring presence, often times overshadowing her male counterpart.

The untimely demise of a woman who carried such power came as a shock to all, especially with the twists and turns of the various autopsies creating a shroud of mystery. The news of her death first came as a shock and was defined as a sudden heart attack, later revealed that there was a certain amount of alcohol content in her blood, finally with Dubai authorities stating that her death was due to drowning as she fell unconscious. How all these scenarios intertwine is still a mystery, but the final report is yet to be divulged to the public.

None the less, news of her sudden death has put the nation into a frenzy, and as sketchy as it all looks it would be good for the government to step in and hamper another label of ‘mystery death’. There are too many national heroes, superstars, and well-acclaimed individuals from journalists, to ministers whose death is questionable.

Stories regarding Sridevi’s rather tumultuous life are hitting the headlines. With Ram Gopal Verma’s letter to Sridevi’s fans he has revealed the great sadness behind the ever-smiling face. Sridevi started acting from the tender age of 4 years, her career spanned the course of 50 years. As she kept climbing the ladder of success her personal life was disintegrating. Actors were paid a bulk of their money in black, Sridevi’s father trusted friends and relatives with that money.

After her father’s demise she lost a huge chunk of her hard earned money, and was reared by her overprotective mother. Her mother had invested in a series of bad real estates, leading to more loss. In the 1990’s Sridevi’s mother had a brain tumor, but the surgery was botched leading to damaged brain function. In the midst Srilatha, Sridevi’s sister eloped with her neighbor. Sridevi’s mother signed a will putting the remaining assets in Sridevi’s name, but Srilatha filed a case stating that their mother wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make a sound decision.

When Sridevi finally met Boney Kapoor they were both broke, they fell in love but Boney Kapoor was married. Sridevi was called a ‘home wrecker’ and punched in the stomach by Boney Kapoor’s mother. Many actors and personalities of the industry have come forward and said that Sridevi was unhappy, that she had a miserable personal life, but the one place she was at peace is in front of the camera.

Sridevi was one of the highest paid Bollywood Actress in the 1990’s, at times paid more than her male costars. She is the one and only actress who was capable of huge box office success without the support of a male hero, in fact she would overshadow her male costars and many actors would fear working with her. In the movie ‘Khuda Gawah’ Sridevi managed to overshadow fellow superstar and now King of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan.

After an 8 year sabbatical she made her return with the movie ‘English Vinglish’ which according to Komal Nahta is “the best comeback in Bollywood history”. Established as a formidable actress on-screen with versatile roles each time she did a movie, Sridevi was a shy and humble person off-screen. In her last advertisement she created a homely feel on set, she was keen on being punctual, and didn’t have the ‘star tantrum’ that are usually heard of in celebrities. Her passion and love for acting reflected with the ease she would perform.

Two decades of her life she has spent as the wife of Boney Kapoor and the mother of Jhanvi and Khushi, her daughters. She let her rising career take a step back and placed her family in the forefront, even after her experience with her family she gave all her love to her husband and daughters. Frequently the family was seen together, often times she was seen holding her daughters hands and promoting them for upcoming movies. At the core of her being she was a woman with abundant love, self-sacrificing and humble. Let us remember Sridevi not for the manner of her untimely demise, but for the beauty she shared with her devoted fans.

“Triple Talaq Bill: Opposition’s double game will be counterproductive” in TOI Blog

Biddat in talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq) means innovation, but in real sense it is no innovation but pervert distortion which is not even supported by Quran. Muslim men in India have used this ‘innovation’ to ruin the lives of women and they want it to continue the same way. Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was introduced in the parliament by the Modi government not to interfere in the religious matters of Muslim community but to empower women by removing this distorted practice and punishing the culprits for their criminal act.

The bill was introduced for the mothers and sisters of our Muslim community, to uphold their dignity, respect and right to equality. There is no space for compromise in the instant talaq as it doesn’t leave any scope for that. This mindless practice allows Muslim men to terminate the marriage in a jiffy, leaving aggrieved woman with her children helpless and shelter less. So the only objective of this bill was, is and will be to stop talaq-e- bidat forever and provide succour to aggrieved Muslim women.

When marriage is solemnized in the presence of all the family members and friends then why triple talaq is given in a one-sided, secluded manner? This bill will strengthen the status of women and prevent their social and economic harassment. The opposition parties played double game on this issue in the parliament. They allowed the bill to pass smoothly in the Lok Sabha but taking advantage of their majority, created hurdles in the Rajya Sabha. They raised frivolous objections on the viability of the bill and tried hard to make the government bite the dust. Their clear intention was to appease fundamentalists whom they use as vote bank but little did they realize that their gimmicks would ultimately back-stab Muslim women and deprive them of long awaited justice.

When this practice was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in view of the constitutional guarantees and rights given to Muslim women as equal citizens of India, it is not hard to understand why opposition parties are playing dirty politics over this issue. Thanks to their blind support for Islamic fundamentalists, this pervert practice is still continuing unabated. Recently, two more cases of instant divorce took place in Uttar Pradesh. In one of the cases, the woman was deserted because of skin colour and in the other, she was thrown out because she demanded money for the treatment of her daughter. Such uncouth treatment with women is simply shameful and unacceptable. How can a civilized society allow such blatant injustice?

Uttar Pradesh has become the first State to authenticate the Central government’s draft bill that makes triple talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Under the draft law, triple talaq given by uttering, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — would be wrong or illegal and unconstitutional. The draft law, which provides for three-year imprisonment and a fine to a man trying to divorce his wife by uttering “talaq” three times, got the State government’s approval at a Cabinet meeting.

Politically motivated Muslim fundamentalists are attacking the Modi government for interfering in their religious matters but the fact remains that the proposed bill is not against their religion but the inhuman malpractice of triple talaq which according to Supreme Court infringes upon the fundamental rights of Muslim women. Whereas the Supreme Court declares triple talaq illegal, the bill provides the framework for the delivery of justice. When triple talaq is declared illegal by the Supreme Court, those who perpetrate such practice must be punished adequately and must provide compensation for their misdeeds.

Despite road block in the Rajya Sabha, the Modi government has expressed its 100% commitment towards this bill. If they really want to enact this law, they still have many options. The government can reintroduce it in the budget session after due consultation with the opposition parties. If the opposition parties try to vitiate the soul of the bill, then government can convene a joint parliamentary session to get it passed. Hope good sense will prevail on opposition parties this time and they will help government enact this historic law that empowers Muslim women.

“From moon to the world, it’s all about Indian women” in TOI Blog

It is always said to each and every Indian women out there that you are born to fight. Fight with rituals, myths, society, men domination and what not. Indian women have almost fought a war to be what they are now. Whether it is the great Matreiye or Kalpana Chawla or the world’s most beautiful lady- Manushi Chillar, every one has contributed a lot to make this nation proud and independent. Indian history is flooded with all these great women who had shown a remarkable face of themselves when the society needed them the most. One should not get surprised after knowing the fact the it was not the Indian men like Chanakya and Ashoka who dreamt of ‘Akhand Bharat’ but she was the mother of Puru, Anusuya who had been killed for dreaming so.

When it comes to sacrifice, those were Indian women who put their step forward before anyone to protect their family, to protect their nation. Rani Padmavati is in lot of debates nowadays and we Indians must not forget that she was the one who with other 16,000 women did ‘Johar’ after struggling against Alaudin khilji. Not only this, there were many powerful women like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Bhagwati Devi, Aasha Devi, Uda Devi and Begum Hazart Mahal who played an incredible role in 1857 Indian Revolution against Britishers. They made Britishers hollow from inside and this revolt encouraged various other women to jump in the Indian Freedom Movement. Women like Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai, Renuka Ray and Malti Chowdhry had become sensations for Indian people who later on became the framers of Indian Constitution. Even when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose build Indian national army, he made a special branch for women which was headed by Lakshmi Sehgal.

From then, our Indian government noticed the true power and capabilities of women of our country and allowed them to be there not only in Indian Military but also in Airforce and Navy so that they can fight with the enemies of our nation. But these ladies are just not strong, they are supreme in every other category and this was purely proved by the most beautiful ladies of this world and that too Indian whether we name Rita Fariya, Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Hayden, Yukta Mukhi, Priyanka Chopra or the most recent Manushi Chillar who has made India proud in front of the whole world. And its all about the culture and values of Indian women which are further been given to their daughters and Manushi Chillar gave a great example of this thing by beautifully describing her mother’s contribution in her life.

India was known as the underdeveloped land of snake charmers and acrobats, but these daughters has totally changed the image of our country. Its not just about beauty but also brain whether knowledge, logics or scriptures are concerned. And in all these things, government is also providing a back hand to develop women in every way possible. There is greater thrust on women’s issues by Modi’s government. One of most recent step taken by this government by passing a bill to abolish this ‘triple talak’ practice which would help the Muslim women to be stronger. He is building on a variety of women-focused initiatives like campaigns to educate girls, increased maternity leave, the provision of safer cooking fuels for rural families and also a bill seeking one-third representation for women in Parliament and State Assemblies seeing that women are no less than men in politics and can run a nation as well.

This journey of Indian women so far is much respectable and appreciable. They are now much capable of raising voice for their rights. It can easily be seen that women place themselves in a much stronger place nowadays as on one hand we have India’s first woman defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman while on other the lioness Sushma Swaraj whose voice is enough to calm other men down. These ladies are not less than anyone. Now no moon is farther for any new budding Kalpana Chalwla and the world seems less for ladies like Manushi Chillar.

India is a country of goddesses where women are treated above all, where they are worshipped, where disrespecting them is always an offence. Now they are awaken and much more powerful than ever, powerful enough that they don’t rely on others. They very well know how to fight with social disparities to maintain their family and how to fight with enemies to run a nation because Indian women are born fighters.

“Bill against Triple Talaq: How long will this fight continue? Include polygamy and Nikah Halala in this Bill too” in TOI Blog

On November 24, a 32-year-old woman was allegedly divorced by her husband via phone call. They were married for 10 years and have children. Her husband uttered “talaq” thrice on the phone as the woman wasn’t able to meet his extortionist demands for dowry.

“There were 177 reported cases of triple talaq before the Supreme Court verdict. Even after the verdict, 67 cases of instant talaq were reported. The majority of such cases were in Uttar Pradesh,” said a senior government official.

On August 22, the Supreme Court declared instant triple talaq unconstitutional. The court’s ruling was that instant triple talaq is “violative of the fundamental right under Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution of India”.

The verdict added that Muslim Personal Law (Sharia) Application Act, 1937, when it comes to the matter of triple talaq, must be removed. After the landmark judgment, it was up to Parliament to enact the legislation regarding Muslim marriages and divorce, which is to be implemented within six months of the Supreme Court ruling.

The government plans to introduce legislation aimed at outlawing the controversial Muslim practice of instant triple talaq in the coming winter session of Parliament. “The draft has been sent to all the state heads, and their recommendations and comments have been sought on the draft. Once that is done, further steps will be taken to table the Bill,” a Home ministry official had said. It has been reported that state heads had been given three months to give their suggestions and consent.

The plan is to bring a bill that will ban instant triple talaq, create a non-bailable punishment, and a three-year imprisonment sentence against the husband. The bill may also grant the wife maintenance and custody of her minor children by moving the court. The bill will make instant talaq through any form (verbal, writing, electronic etc) illegal and void. Any aggrieved Muslim woman would be entitled to approach a magistrate court to seek redressal.

A senior BJP leader said, “the issue of triple talaq has become a social concern because women have started coming out against it. The practice is now being opposed by women who are financially and socially vulnerable.” When instant triple talaq happens, a victim has no option but to approach the police for justice. “Even police are helpless as no action can be taken against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in the law. The step taken by the government is a positive message and legislation will go a long way in deterring Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives. Legislation will also empower women who find themselves helpless against the use of the practice,” the BJP leader had said.

The best solution to remove all hardships faced by women would be to apply Uniform Civil Code nationally and remove Personal Laws. When it comes to polygamy, instant triple talaq and nikah halala in Sharia Law, they all are a violation of the rights and integrity of a woman. To follow a UCC which guides each individual under the same purview of the law with equality not only of religion, but also of gender, is the aim of our constitution and our judicial system. Till when will our Muslim sisters fight these archaic practices?
Though the problem of Personal Laws isn’t limited to Muslim women, it also extends to other factional divisions.

In 1991, Goolrukh Gupta, who was named Goolrukh Contractor before her marriage, was married in South Gujarat to a Hindu Man. Originally from the Zoroastrian faith, she held to her religion and continued her practices even after marriage. After her father’s death she was denied entry to the Tower of Silence in Mumbai, even though her father’s last rights were performed there.  She approached Gujarat High Court against this discrimination.

The Gujarat High Court stated in 2012 that due to the Special Marriage Act, (applicable where two individuals from different faiths marry), her religion had changed to that of her husband. She is no longer a Parsi and is now a Hindu. She took the case to the Supreme Court against the Gujarat High Court’s judgment which claimed that Ms Goolrukh Gupta ceased to be a Parsi after her marriage to a Hindu. Chief Justice Misra stated that a woman is not mortgaged to her husband after marriage, her individual identity as well as religious identity are maintained under the Special Marriage Act.

The Chief Justice further said that only a woman can choose to follow or curtail her religious identity, she has that freedom of choice under the Special Marriage Act. If only such freedom of choice, identity and equality were granted to members of all religions and faith.

“We welcome capital punishment for child rapists” in TOI Blog

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, wants death as punishment to rapists. This extreme sentiment felt 8 months ago by Mr Chouhan has now taken civic action. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2016 Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country. In the past two months there has been a sharp increase in rape crimes, and on this Sunday the Madhya Pradesh state cabinet passed a proposal for amendment of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for harsher punishments for rape, molestation, stalking, and sexual harassment. The proposal has approved the appeal for death penalty of raping a girl child 12 years old or younger, and for convicts convicted of gang rape. There is also an amendment in the IPC to increase fine and punishment for rape convicts.

After the Cabinet meeting Finance Minister of MP Jayant Malaiya stated that there should be provisions for harsher punishment under IPC sections 376 (rape) and 493 (cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage). “The recommendation is to impose a fine of Rs 1 lakh for such crimes in addition to harsher punishment for stalking, harassment, rape, and capital punishment for those convicted of rape and gang rape of children aged 12 years and below,” Malaiya said. “For this, the proposal is to add a subsection 376A IPC and 376D (gang rape) IPC. Punishment should be increased under section 493A also.”

Even though Madhya Pradesh might have passed the amendment for this bill the result may not be predictable as it will have to be passed by both houses of Parliament due to the request of capital punishment. A proposal for amendment of these two sections will be presented in the assembly during the winter session. After it is passed in the House, it will be sent to the President for assent.

After the infamously heinous Nirbhaya rape case public demand was to make it safer for women to leave her household without fear for her life or integrity. Another demand was to have stricter and swifter punishable action against criminals, and for more effective criminal proceedings in court. It was during that time that Indian nationals and eminent politicians demanded capital punishment for rapists, Mr Chouhan is one of them. Yet Madhya Pradesh has decided to approve the amendment after the state had come under criticism over rape incidents. The greatest trigger being when a 19 year old UPSC aspirant was raped when returning home from coaching. Her FIR registration was delayed and it led to the suspension of some police officers. In 2014 MP reported 5,076 rape cases, which was 14 percent of the total rape incidents reported in the country.

Yet the proposal has narrowed down to specifics, it will be applicable to a child under the age of 12 and the child should be a girl. The biggest flaw with this amendment is that the rape or molestation of boys is not taken into account. Amod Kanth, former police officer and founder of NGO Prayas said, “When we conducted a national study on child abuse in 2007, along with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, we found that there were as many male victims of child abuse as female.” It is time to forget about gender when it comes to rape, justice for everybody should be on an equal basis irrespective of their differences.

“The power of a mother: from Manushi Chillar to Majid Khan” in TOI Blog

India is a nation whose people value their mother with reverence, from the portrayal of deities in powerful and caregiving roles to men folding their hands in obeisance to ‘lakshmi’. A country which terms its nation as ‘Bharat Mata’ is a rare find in this technologically advancing world. The power of a mother is undeniable, her tears can bring her son back from the abyss and her values can make a woman globally acclaimed.The power of a mother is undeniable, her tears can bring her son back from the abyss and her values can make a woman globally acclaimed.

After a 17 year drought, India’s Manushi Chhillar won the coveted Miss World 2017 title in China. The previous winner was Priyanka Chopra, in her winning answer, Priyanka stated that her idol is Mother Theresa. Manushi, after 17 years, also gave a response based on the value of mother’s which received a huge applause from the audience. The question asked was, “Which profession deserves the highest salary and why?” The 20-year-old said, “A mother deserves the highest respect. It’s just not about cash but also the love and respect that you give to someone. My mother has been a huge inspiration. it is the mother’s job that deserves the biggest salary.”

This reply has awoken the people of India to embrace their cultural values and put their beloved mother’s on the pedestal they deserve yet are rarely acknowledged for.

It has been the argument of feminists that housewives are the largest unpaid workers globally, resulting in work done worth billions of dollars yet not recognised in our economy. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed that an average woman in India spends five hours a day in unpaid work, Indian men spent under 51.8 minutes a day. If the same woman has children from the age range of 1 to 6 years of age, the workload hours increase. Yet the term ‘housewife’ is frowned upon, a mother’s work is thought to be trivial, and her life imagined to be a ‘waste’.

Even if the work of a mother is thought to be a backbreaking task the entire process is imagined to have no economic value whatsoever, even though motherhood helps prepare kids for the national and international labour market. Yet all the efforts that a mother puts into the household, giving her love to her child are not disregarded. On one hand, where a mother’s love brought the coveted Miss World title back to India, a mother’s love also brought back a son from the brink of self and national destruction.

The effect of the love of a mother on her child is profound. Footballer Majid Khan who joined Lashkar-e-Taiba returned home after seeing a video of his mother crying for his return. Majid was seen at the funeral of Muzamil Manzoor, a militant killed during a gunfight in Kund. A week after he announced on Facebook that he was joining the militant ranks he returned. J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed Majid’s decision to return home.

‘’A mother’s love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer, back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most,’’ she tweeted. Shortly after the return of Majid Khan, a 16-year-old boy heeded to his parents’ call and returned home in Chimmer village.
Seeing the positive effect that has been created by these videos of mothers telling their sons to come back home, many other mothers of terrorist sons have started doing the same.

In response, there are sons who are returning back home and aren’t being arrested. The government of J&K has declared that there will be no penalty for first-time offenders of any crime. In this manner, we can see that the role of a caregiver isn’t limited to our conventional belief of mother, but is also by the government. This different approach to rehabilitation of the youth, the belief that there is still hope, and the understanding that there is a gap in approach between the Indian government and Kashmiri youth has brought about a new approach.

The question still arises that with the hullabaloo surrounding Manushi Chillar’s response, to the return of children from terrorist groups, are we truly deserving to be called a nation who respects their mother in the 21st century? Compared to Western countries where children tend to live in nuclear families and leave their residence at the tender age of 18 years old, the attachment to parents isn’t as strong as in India.

Or yet that was the case until at least a decade ago, the new age trend is for Indian children to be educated outside of India and continue to live there, Indian children are leaving their parents alone. To achieve the dream of being successful in life, where success is measured in terms of international standards of income, the primary caregiver falls behind. Perhaps it is time to follow what we preach, not just say that we love our mothers but be there to care for our caregivers at a time that matters the most.

‘Love Jihad’: Akhila alias Hadiya & the safety of our nation’s daughters

When a Muslim boy marries a non-Muslim girl and feigns love to convert her to Islam it’s called ‘Love Jihad’, a similarly common tactic by some Christian cults is ‘Love Bombing’. The Hadiya lawsuit put the spotlight on “love jihad”. Akhila Ashokan, a 24-year-old homeopathic doctor converted to Islam and renamed herself Hadiya Shefin, she married Shafin Jahan even after her family’s dissent. It’s alleged she was recruited and brainwashed by the Islamic State terrorist group and her husband was their pawn terrorist. Akhila’s marriage with Shafin Jahan was declared annulled by lower court after the girl’s father complained that her conversion to Islam wasn’t simply a case of ‘love marriage’ but of ‘love jihad’. Her father, a retired military man Ashokan KM, challenged the validity of the marriage in the high court and got the relationship annulled.

The NIA stated in the Supreme Court that non-Muslim girls are lured, converted and finally sent to Syria to join ISIS, victims are most popularly found on college campus. In September 2012 two girls stated that they had been forced to convert by Muslim youths. The young men were members of a student organization and were subsequently arrested without bail. There are YouTube videos which show rescued girls who share their horrific experience of surviving Love Jihad, most of them Keralites. Times Now has also released “love jihad” tapes. Many similar situations have been reported by women.

One example is of Nimisha Fathima, which is widely shared on the internet. She married into a family of Christian converted Muslims, her husband, husband’s brother and his wife have all fled the country with Nimisha. Nimisha’s Mother has requested an investigation into Love Jihad as the last communication she had with her daughter was in 2016 June when Nimisha was eight months pregnant. It’s believed that her daughter may be in a remote location of Afghanistan in an attempt to join ISIS. Similar reports of Love Jihad activities have emerged from Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Love jihad isn’t new, the term has been newly conceptualized but the process has been underway for centuries. Now the rewards for a successful conversion for the purpose of jihad have changed. The most important reasons that conversion to Islam are sought after are the following:

1. To increase the Muslim population and spread the word of Islam globally

2. To deploy procreated children in terrorist organizations

3. Financial gain from Muslim organizations for successful conversions

4. Creating pornographic films and marketing them thereby threatening the victims to remain silent, as well as selling those films in Gulf countries

5. The victims are transported and sold to Gulf countries as sex-slaves. The price of virgin girls is extremely high in these slave-markets

Prize money is involved in Gulf countries. Non-Muslims are being converted on mass scale and given money for conversion, especially in the Philippines. A few decades ago a large sum for the same was provided to converters, now the prize money amount is reduced. But for a poor person it’s good enough. In India the reason for conversion isn’t money but the belief that there will be a place in Heaven reserved for their ‘good deed’.

When it comes down to the infamous Hadiya case, the Supreme Court has observed that there is no law which states that a girl cannot marry a criminal. But the Akhila’s case isn’t just about marrying a criminal committed of a petty crime, it’s about ‘psychological hijacking’, it’s about terrorism, and it’s a question of our national security. Even though we live in a modern society and it is the era of recognizing human rights, have we forgotten about human protection in the process? There are susceptible, young and innocent girls that are being brainwashed by terrorist organizations. They are marrying for love while their criminal counterparts are marrying to convert more people into jihad. In this case if Akhila’s father is able to foresee said difficulties and shows concern for her only child is he to be vilified?

Akhila’s guardian Zainaba stated that the marriage was arranged, that Akhila and her husband met a month prior to the wedding. Is it not then conspicuous that Akhila is more willing to live with a husband whom she has barely met, going against her father’s wishes of taking a rational decision towards marriage, and is fighting for someone she doesn’t know. What pushed a girl like Akhila alias Hadiya to take the decision to be under Zainaba’s guardianship and be married within a month? Who had told her that such is a necessity to live a wholesome life? It is not

difficult to see that the girl was not able to make a conscientious choice regarding her marriage to her spouse, and has been influenced to take this step as well, if such is the case. Until Shafin Jahan’s connections to Islamic terrorist organizations are cleared by intelligence personnel the safety of Akhila cannot be guaranteed. The safety of the daughters of our nation is primary, and it’s time to educate our daughters about the possibilities of entrapment.

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