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'Concern' over Modi's silence over Haridwar hate speech, law to raise girls' wedding age

By Syed Tanveer Ahmed*

Expressing serious concern over increasing incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches all over the country, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has called on the government to take strong action to check it effectively. At he same time, talking to media on the current issues at an online press briefing, JIH vice-president Prof Salim Engineer welcomed the law against mob lynching brought by the Jharkhand government.
Responding to media questions on recent hate speeches at the Haridwar Dharma Sansad, in which an open call was allegedly given to take up arms against Muslims, Prof. Salim said that it was a direct challenge to the authority of the government, the Constitution of India and the law and order agencies that guaranteed protection to life and property of each and every citizen irrespective of their faith.
Expressing concern over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the hate speeches that were delivered at the Haridwar religious summit, the JIH leader stated that it was the constitutional duty of the government and enforcement agencies to take a response to the hate speeches and incitement to violence against Muslims in the country.
Prof Salim lamented that the police and administration did not appear serious about the issue and that was why they had not taken any stringent action against the accused persons. He said that whether it was the hate speech at the Haridwar meet or by some individuals, it appeared that this was all done under a set agenda.
Replying to another question, Prof Salim said that the JIH would discuss about submitting a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah, drawing their attention to the Haridwar meet and hate speeches by individuals that might provoke religious intolerance in the country and cause great harm to religious harmony.
Expressing grave concern over the rising attacks on places of worship of minorities, Prof Salim said, “It is very unfortunate, that this politics of hate is practiced to divert the attention of people, especially when elections are around, from the real issues so that the performance of the government and ruling establishment is shifted from development to other emotional issues. We are confident that the people of our country will realize this deceit and not allow it to succeed.”

Law against mob lynching

Welcoming the law against mob lynching brought by the Jharkhand government, the JIH vice president advised other state governments to legislate a similar law to give a strong message to those who took the law in their own hands. Jharkhand is the third state, after Rajaasthan and West Bengal that have legislated a law against mob lynching.
Speaking on the issue, Prof. Salim said, “Hate crimes and lynching of Muslims and Dalit’s have increased a lot recently. Some well-organized groups and cow-vigilante gangs along with anti-social and criminal elements feel emboldened to carry out lynching’s in broad daylight, filming them and circulating them on social media. They do so with impunity because no serious action has been taken against them by the police and so they have taken this as a signal that the government is not concerned about the safety and security of the minorities and the marginalized."
"This is creating fear in the common citizens. JIH feels that it is the duty of the Central government and the state governments to protect the life of its citizens. Hence, they must take the lead and quickly pass similar ‘Prevention of Mob Lynching’ bills and ensure that lynching’s become history in our country", he added.

Marriage age of girls

Speaking about raising the marriage age of girls from 18 to 21, Prof Salim said that the hasty legislation on this issue would only result in atrocities on women and their parents. Expressing concern over the government move, he said, “Currently, there is a global consensus that the legal age of marriage for women should be 18 years. This is being followed in maximum countries including many developed countries. Raising the age limit will have no bearing on the current poor health indicators of mothers and infants if poverty and lack of healthcare access remain at existing higher levels."
According to him, "JIH feels that the move goes against the law of nature. The increase in age limit will also impact on our demographic dividend in the long run, which is currently quite favourable. Once the proposal becomes law, it will negatively affect the tribal communities and subject them to more harassment at the hands of law-enforcement machinery.”
He said that if boys and girls could be given the right to vote at 18 to select a good candidate for state assemblies and Parliament, why should they wait till 21 to marry? Prof. Salim wanted a debate on the issue before passing any legislation in this regard. He hoped that the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which has been assigned the job to evaluate the Bill and submit a report, would reject the proposals in the larger interest of the nation.

Poll-bound UP

The JIH asked all political parties to avoid holding huge public rallies keeping in view the Omicron pandemic. It also advised the Election Commission of India to issue directions to political parties to desist from holding big public rallies to prevent spread of the infection that can pose a serious threat to the health of the people. Prof Salim also asked political parties not to raise communal issues in elections and conduct election campaigning on real issues that were concerned with the needs of the people.
Asking for introspection and evaluating our past year’s performances, the JIH leader asserted that it was essential to look back at the important events and trends of the past year and learn the appropriate lessons therefrom. He said that in the Covid second wave in 2021, we experienced one of the worst crises as a nation in the recent past.
He added, “JIH has been consistently demanding that the government must increase its allocation tords the health sector. The other major concern last year was the considerable drop in the country’s GDP due to the pandemic. The government must come out with schemes that help those pushed into poverty and unemployment. The year also saw a spike in atrocities against women, Dalits and minorities. JIH feels that the government should learn lessons from the past and focus on growth and development.”
Prof Salim hoped that 2022 would usher in peace and prosperity to our nation and the people would get rid of those who thrive on polarization, discrimination and oppression.
---
*Secretary, Media Department, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

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