MUMBAI: Thousands of Muslim women, most attired in the black 'burqa' staged a silent protest march at Azad Maidan here on Saturday, demanding withdrawal of the bill banning 'Triple Talaq' passed by Lok Sabha last December.
Organised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board's (AIMPLB) Women Wing, and described as the "first, exclusive Muslim women's protest rejecting the Bill and supporting the Sharia Laws" it elicited huge response from Muslim women across the country.
Though the march was silent, the women carried placards loudly proclaiming their demands with slogans opposing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017,and expressing their support to protect the Shariah.
"Our demand is very clear. Take back the Triple Talaq Bill. It is anti-women, anti-gender justice, anti-children, will destroy families, push Muslim husbands into jail and damage the Muslim society," said AIMPLB Women Wing President Asma Zehra.
She added that so far, more than five crore women have joined a signature campaign supporting the AIMPLB's stand on the issue and submitted it to the Law Commission, on the Bill, currently pending before the Rajya Sabha.
"This Bill is an attempt to interfere with the personal laws which we cannot accept. The protest is also aimed at the handful of women who distributed sweets after the government passed the Bill hurriedly in the Lok Sabha," she said.
Zehra said the Bill is "legally defective, puts women in legal-social complications, focuses on jailing Muslim men without helping women in any manner" and has been opposed legal experts, womens rights groups and Muslim women across India.
He further alleged that the Triple Talaq Bill not only criminalises Talaq, but moves a step towards the Uniform Civil Code which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh seeks to impose.
"The Indian Constitution has granted the people the freedom to practice their religion but this government wants to deprive the citizens of their constitutional right," she added.
AIMPLB executive member Monisa B. Abidi said that instead of bringing in a law that criminalises 'Triple Talaq', the government should have asked the community to bring in changes and internal reforms.
Lawyer Munawwarai Alware said Muslim women "strongly favour Shariah Laws" and cannot be cheated with hollow slogans.
Jamat-e-Islami Hind's Arshia Shakeel pointed out that the Islam is "a complete way of life, Muslims are blessed by Sharaih Law which is a complete code in individual and social matters and the community is satisfied with it.
Other prominent women who addressed the gathering included AIMPLB's Sumaya Sajjad Nomani, Zakiya M. Farid Shaikh, Ishrath Shahabuddin Shaikh, Saleha Sohel, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat's Aaeen Raza, SNDT University's Prof Shabana Khan, Shia Jamaat's Farah Jafri, and Moballigha Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat's Salma Rizvi.
Later, the gathering adopted four resolutions: "1. We strongly oppose the 'Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017' and demand that the government must take it back, 2. We support Muslim Personal Law and will not tolerate any changes in the Muslim Personal Law matters. 3. We oppose all moves to bring in Uniform Civil Code (UCC), in India. 4. 99 per cent Muslim women have full faith in the leadership of All India Muslim Personal Law Board."
Procession coordinator and media in-charge Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi said around 200,000 women from all over India joined the protest while convenor Salamat Ullah Nadvi said that they highlighted the fact that the Bill, instead of protecting Muslim women, would deprive them of even the rights which they are currently entitled to and be detrimental to their interests.
Various political parties like AIMIM and Muslim leaders from different parties have supported the Muslim women's demands raised in today's protest.
"It is very rare that so many thousands of women from different sects in the Muslim community have joined together to protest against this Bill," said Congress legislator and ex-minister Naseem Khan.
Later, a delegation of women leaders met Governor C. V. Rao and submitted a memorandum to be forwarded to the President, Prime Minister and others at the centre, Maulana Qasmi told IANS.