[Ehsan Jafri and his daughter Nishrin Jafri in a file photo. Nishrin shared this picture in response to the "brother's" #SelfieWithDaughter campaign”.]
On Thursday, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and the party's National Spokesperson, who is also a Supreme Court lawyer, made a surprising revelation in the Parliament. While participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha on Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill - popularly known as the Triple Talaq bill, she called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "brother" of Muslim women and assured them that they should not worry about or fear anyone as long as they have a "brother" like him.
Meenakshi Lekhi's latest revelation was surprising because the world has not forgotten yet that Prime Minister Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat when a number of Muslim women were raped, burnt alive and their womb torn apart in broad daylight as the state burnt for weeks right under his nose.
Meenakshi Lekhi calls him “brother” of Muslim women. But, “this brother” did nothing to stop the ruthless massacre and bloody carnage of the innocents. He was constitutionally liable for what was going on in the state, and this is why then Prime Minister Vajpayee reminded him of “Raj Dharam”. Yet, he did nothing, and worst, he asked the police department “to let Hindus vent their anger against the Muslims”, according to the affidavit filed by Senior Gujarat police officer Sanjeev Bhatt in the Supreme Court of India.
Is this the definition of a brother in your dictionary, Meenakshi ji?
Lekhi's disclosure was also surprising because the only relation which Prime Minister Modi, and also the BJP and RSS, have with the Muslim community, which of course include Muslim women, is well known. And, there is no report, at least in my knowledge, when Prime Minister Modi “built this new found relation with the Muslim women” which Meenakshi Lekhi shared with the world from the Parliament.
Meenaskhi Lekhi is an honorable Member of the Parliament. She must be better informed about when and how this “pleasant turnaround” has taken place in the prime minister’s life. If indeed this is the case, then the first Muslim woman who deserves the sympathy and attention of the "brother" is Zakia Jafri – the 80-year-old widow of Ehsan Jafri. Ehsan Jafri who was brutally murdered along with over sixty others during the riots and Zakia, despite her old age, is wandering since 2002 from one court to another seeking justice.
Next in the list who deserve the attention and care of the “brother” are Asghari Begum and Shaista – the widow and daughter of Akhlaque Ahmed who was lynched in Dadri just because some pieces of mutton, not the “banned beef”, were found in his house. And, who was Akhlaque Ahmed? He was father of an engineer serving for the Indian Air Force (IAF). This makes a double relation, and hence the grieving family members have the right to expect support from their “brother” in getting justice.
And, why shouldn’t the “brother” reach out to Saira whose 16-year-old son Junaid was beaten to death just two days before Eid al Fitr merely because he believed in a faith which was not the same as his fellow travelers in the train?
Furthermore, how can the “brother” be so ignorant of the sufferings and pain of Fatima Nafees – the mother of JNU student Najeeb who is missing since October 2016? More than a year has passed when this poor student went missing, but, far from reaching out to the grieving mother, the “brother” has not uttered a single word of sympathy for this poor Muslim woman.
Is this how a brother behaves, Meenakshi ji?
These are just few examples Meenakshi ji to show how much your party cares about the Muslim women. Otherwise, there is a long and endless list where the “brother” is urgently required to serve his sisters – the Muslim women who were targeted during a series of riots and anti-Muslim hate attacks in which people associated with your organization are accused of involvement in one way or the other.
I am a strong opponent of instant talaq. But the manner your party is using the issue for political mileage, Meenakshi ji, is nothing more than an addition of yet another chapter in the long history of anti-Muslim hate agenda which the organisations you are associated with preach for and work on. Empty and hollow words cannot hide this fact.
[The writer, Aleem Faizee is Founder Editor of ummid.com. He was part of "A Study on the Scoio-Economic Status of Indian Muslims: Seven years post Sachar". He can be reached at email@example.com.]