Women’s Reservation Bill
The Indian Parliament passed the Women’s Reservation Bill on September 18, 2023, and it has received the assent of the President of India. The new “Nari Shakti Vandan Act-2023” reserves 33% of seats exclusively for women in both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. The proposed reservation will come into effect only after the publication of the next Census and the subsequent delimitation exercise. It means that the benefits of the Bill can be accrued only after 2029. The Act does not offer reservation to women in the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Councils. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that for a strong democracy, it is important for all groups and classes to find representation in power-sharing. Even after 75 years since we got independence, the representation of women in Parliament and our state legislatures is quite dismal. Efforts should be made to bring their numbers up to the mark. Hence this new law is a good move in this direction. It should have come quite earlier. However, the law does not address the stark social inequalities in a vast country like India by excluding women from OBCs, and Muslim women. Although it includes women from SCs and STs it ignores those from OBCs and the Muslim community. Various reports and studies like the Justice Sachar Committee report (2006), Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee Report (2014), Report of the Expert Group on Diversity Index (2008), India Exclusion Report (2013-14), 2011 Census and latest NSSO reports – all suggest that Indian Muslims and especially women lack in socio-economic indices. The political representation of Muslims in Parliament and state legislatures has been steadily declining. It is not proportionate to the size of their population. One of the many ways to remove inequality is affirmative action (reservation). Ignoring OBC and Muslim women in the Women’s Reservation Bill would be unjust and not in tune with the policy of “Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas.”
BJP MPs filthy and offensive language in Parliament goes unpunished
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind strongly condemns the appalling, offensive, and filthy language used by MP Ramesh Bidhuri of the BJP against BSP MP, Kunwar Danish Ali in the Lok Sabha. The shameful behavior by Bhiduri has angered every civilized Indian and lowered the standard and dignity of Parliament. Using racial slurs against a Member of Parliament by targeting his religious identity to humiliate and berate him and his religion is not only shocking and distasteful but also criminal. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has maintained a steady silence on the issue and no action has been taken against Bhiduri in Parliament. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that Bhiduri’s action on the floor of the Lower House is not just a misdemeanor that can be excused with a slight rebuke. It is a grave violation of the dignity of a Parliamentarian amounting to a hate crime as the offensive words are deployed by criminals and anti-social elements to denigrate members of a particular religious community. It is also a natural outcome of the sustained narrow jingoistic ultra-nationalism practiced by those in power and that thrives on the othering of citizens like Kukis, Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis. It exposes the blatant Islamophobia breeding within many members of the ruling dispensation. Jamaat believes that MPs are role models for citizens and if this crime goes unpunished, it will give a message that such actions are now being normalized. It will embolden others with similar depravity and hurt our long-cherished ideals and values of mutual respect and tolerance. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind demands that Bhiduri be disqualified as MP and the BJP should also dismiss him from the party. Anything less will show Indian democracy in poor light.
Mob lynching and Sexual Violence against Women
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is highly concerned over the growing incidents of the mob lynching of Muslims as well as the many cases of sexual violence against women. The latest case of mob lynching of innocent Muslim youth is that of 23-year-old Mohammed Ishaq in Sundar Nagari, Northeast Delhi. In a video that went viral on social media, one can see Ishaq tied to a pole with a leather belt and beaten mercilessly for allegedly stealing “prasad” from a nearby temple. In another incident, 17-year-old Mohammad Iqbal was beaten by a mob with iron rods and sticks after he intervened in a bike accident in the Gangapol area, Jaipur. It is alleged that the mob started attacking him after learning that he was Muslim. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that these incidents of mob lynching of Muslims are a result of the influence of communal poison being spread in our country. There is a systematic campaign by anti-democratic and communal forces to weaken Muslims economically, ghettoize them geographically, disempower them politically, and create a rift and hatred against them at the social level. This is weakening our democracy as well as diverting the attention from the real issues confronting the nation.
Jamaat also expresses grave concern over the many incidents of sexual violence against women. The news of the rape of a minor girl in Ujjain is extremely painful. Reports say that after being raped and dumped by her tormentor, she kept asking for help (even as she was bleeding and without clothes); she went door to door and nobody helped her for hours together. This shows the extreme selfishness and complete absence of compassion in our society. Every day, we find some or the other news about a minor girl or woman being raped in our country. NCRB data from 2021 says that 86 rapes occur daily in our country with 49 offences against women being registered per hour. The conviction rate in cases of crime against women in India stood at 26.5% in 2021. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind believes that the problem of sexual crimes against women has to be solved comprehensively. While it is important to have stringent laws, speedy trials, and exemplary punishment for rapists, the question of moral reform of society is equally important. Unless the values of “fear of God” and “accountability” in the Hereafter are inculcated in people, the sexual exploitation of women will continue to fester humanity.
Caste Survey in Bihar
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind welcomes the Bihar Caste Census Population Report. Jamaat feels that a caste census is required at the national level to get the latest and updated data regarding the marginalized and deprived sections of society. Reservation in educational institutes and government jobs are provided based on caste identities. A caste census will help policymakers to design better policies and formulate more accurate welfare programs. While census data has been captured for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, religions, and linguistic profiles, the latest updated census data on the national level is not available on the various castes in the country. The last caste-wise census took place in 1931. A Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) was carried out in 2011. However, the results were not released by the government. Article 340 of the Constitution of India mandates the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes and make recommendations for governments. There are apprehensions that a caste-based census would further promote caste-based political mobilization and lead to division in society. However, Jamaat feels that these apprehensions are misplaced that the question of justice and equity is paramount, and that the national caste census is the need of the hour. The results of the Bihar Caste Survey show how the population size and current reservations offered are disproportionate. The Bihar Survey shows that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) constitute 63% of the state’s total population. (EBCs = 36% and OBCs = 27%). The survey also shows that Yadavs (OBC) account for 14.27% of the population while Dalits (Scheduled Castes) account for 19.65%. Scheduled Tribes make up 1.68% while the “unreserved” category forms 15.52% of the total population. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind believes that benefits and reservations should be in tune with the size of the population of the social class.
Delhi Police conduct early morning raids on homes of journalists
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind strongly condemns the early morning raids at the residences of numerous journalists, stand-up comedians, satirical writers, and commentators by the Delhi Police to investigate alleged “terror connections” in a case regarding the funding of the news portal “Newsclick”. A cursory glance at the journalists who were targeted shows that the Delhi Police has picked the ones who were most vocal and critical of the various policies of the government. Among the journalists whose houses were raided include Abhisar Sharma, Bhasha Singh, Urmilesh, and Newsclick editor Prabir Purkayastha along with Githa Hariharan, Aunindyo Chakravarty, historian Sohail Hashmi, and satirist Sanjay Rajaura. Media reports say that the homes of CPI leader Sitaram Yechury, activist Teesta Setalvad and veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are being raided by the Delhi Police. It is reported that an FIR has been registered against these journalists under the draconian UAPA and other offenses of the IPC. This hounding of the media by the government is not something new. Jamaat feels that such intimidation tactics deployed against journalists go against the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India and weaken our democracy. Jamaat appeals to all justice-loving people to condemn this move and raise their voices in solidarity with these “guardians of democracy”.