Kolkata: On the day when the triple talaq bill was placed in the Rajya Sabha, the Muslim Personal Law Board appealed to parliamentarians to send the bill to a select committee. But the house was adjourned amid stormy sparring between the government and opposition and before it could vote on whether it should be sent to a parliamentary committee for review.
Amid the tussle between the centre and the opposition over the bill, Ishrat Jahan, a Howrah-based petitioner in the landmark verdict against instant triple talaq, has joined BJP.
"BJP didn't induct me. I have come forward to join BJP because Modi ji has made a new law and I am very happy with it," said the 32-year-old mother of four who was divorced over phone from Dubai.
"The way I suffered, I will work to ensure other women don't suffer like that, whatever religion they belong to," she said after being welcomed into the BJP at its Howrah district office on Saturday last.
The bill makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence and recommends a three-year jail term for Muslim men who divorce their wives by saying talaq thrice.
Her politics is her business, said members of the Muslim Personal Law Board in Kolkata, but insisted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 can't pass in its present form and should be sent by Rajya Sabha to a select committee.
Maulana Abu Taleb Rehmani, president of the West Bengal subcommittee of the Law Board, said, "We will appeal to the government. After all it is our government, then go to court and if that doesn't work, we shall see what can be done."
"The Supreme Court has pronounced that instant triple talaq is invalid. That the husband and wife will remain husband and wife. So if the husband has not committed a crime, why put him in jail for three years?" Mr Rehmani said.
The other concern, he said, is the cognisable nature of the crime. "If a third person says some man has given instant triple talaq to his wife, he can be arrested and that will cause social unrest, people will use the law to settle scores, jails and courts will be full," he said.
"Worst of all, women whose husbands end up in jail will be forced to beg on the streets. Surely, that's not what the government wants for Muslim women," Mr Rehmani said.
A fresh flashpoint has emerged. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday that his government has ensured Muslim women can now go for Haj unescorted.
Dr Neelam Ghazala, member, subcommittee of the Law Board, said, "Haj is our religious ritual. Neither PM Modi nor anybody else can dictate to Muslim women how to perform Haj. Next, PM Modi will tell us how to do namaz."
Ishrat Jahan, the triple talaq petitioner, said, "Divorced and widowed women couldn't go for Haj. Now, if Modi ji has made it possible, that's great."