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Though a Muslim, I have no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’- Najma Heptullah

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Minister for minority affairs: Najma Heptullah Image source: blogs.dw.com

New Delhi, April 6 : Terming the controversy related to chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as “unnecessary and uncalled for”, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah has said that there was nothing wrong in praising the motherland and religion has nothing to do with this.

 “Whichever country is your ‘vatan’ (motherland) you should be loyal to it,” the minister told IANS in an interview.

Heptullah emphasised that there was some politics behind the controversy and said she herself being a Muslim had no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

“By saying so I am not doing anything against my religion. My ‘imaan’ (faith) is not that weak. In fact there is no religion involved in it,” she said, adding that even Prophet Muhammad had endorsed this.

“I want to ask every Muslim where would they go after dying?” and answered: “It’s their motherland which would take them in her arms.”

The minister, however, said that there are different ways of showing or expressing loyalty towards the nation.

Commenting on yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s controversial statement where he had said that he would have “beheaded” those who refuse to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” if the law of the land was not there, she said people should refrain from making such comments.

“My freedom of speech must not hurt anybody. We should be careful,” she said.

Asked whether these kinds of statements, which often come from various leaders of the BJP and other people related to it, affect the working and moral of the Modi government, the minister said she was “focused” and other ministers and functionaries were also busy doing their work.

Speaking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the policies of his government in relation to minority communities, the minister said that the central government was actually doing a lot for every single minority community of the country.

She accused the previous UPA governments of “doing nothing” for any of the minority communities and said they were busy labelling Modi as anti-Muslim.

“Whatever was to be done (for minority communities during Congress-led governments) was not done,” she contended.

Heptullah said 8.6 million scholarships were given to students of minority communities and she was inspired by Modi’s vision for the development of Muslim community — that he would like to see a copy of the Quran in one hand of a madrasa student and a computer in the other hand.

The minister also said that 27 madrasas are working with the central government’s skill development programme.

(Sushil Kumar could be contacted at sushil.k@ians.in)

Next Story

Triple Talaq Now Banned In India

While most Hindu personal laws have been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched.

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Indian Muslim women talk while walking through a market in Ahmadabad, India. VOA

India’s government on Wednesday approved an ordinance to implement a top court ruling striking down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce.

The government decision came after it failed to get approval of Parliament a year after the court ruled that the practice of triple “talaq” violated the constitutional rights of Muslim women.

Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by the Muslim Personal Law for family matters and disputes. The laws include allowing men to divorce by simply uttering the Arabic word “talaq,” or divorce, three times — and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium, including telephone, text message or social media post.

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Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of  women, VOA News

The government will have another six months to get Parliament’s approval for the ordinance to become law. But in the meantime, suspects can be prosecuted using the ordinance.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that nearly 22 countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice and appealed to the opposition to approve the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill.

India’s Muslim Law Board had told the court that while they considered the practice wrong, they opposed any court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community. But several progressive Muslim activists decried the law board’s position.

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Muslim women hold placards during a protest against a bill passed by India’s lower house of Parliament last week that aims at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the “triple talaq,” or instant divorce. VOA

After the Supreme Court verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced a bill criminalizing the practice and it was approved in December by the lower house of Parliament, where his party commands a majority. But it couldn’t get the approval of the upper house, where the opposition controls the majority of seats.

The main opposition Congress party is opposing a three-year prison sentence for the offenders and wants a parliamentary committee to discuss the issue to reach a consensus. It favors a lesser sentence.

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In India, triple talaq has continued with the protection of laws that allow Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities to follow religious laws in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. While most Hindu personal laws have been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched. (VOA)