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BJP seeks to put Cong in dock over Imrana fatwa; SP backs edict

June 29, 2005 23:27 IST

The Darul Uloom Deoband's fatwa against Imrana, who was allegedly raped by her father-in-law, on Wednesday took political overtones as the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to put the Congress party in the dock, like in the Shah Bano case, while the Samajwadi Party backed the seminary's edict separating the woman from her husband.

While the BJP accused the Congress of playing 'vote-bank politics' by keeping mum on the issue, the ruling party at the Centre indicated the law should take its own course in the case in which the fatwa drew condemnation from a cross section of society.

"We are governed by the Constitution and law of the land," Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said while replying to a volley of questions, including whether religion should be allowed to interfere in personal affairs and whether there was violation of human rights in the Imrana case.

He did not reply to a query whether the party has 'matured' after the Shah Bano case, whose handling by the Rajiv Gandhi government at that time had resulted into a situation that the BJP exploited to the hilt by projecting it as minority appeasement.

In a cautious reaction, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Salman Khurshid said, "We have to support the law of the land. What the law of the land says about Imrana, we have to know from a judge." Asked about his view on Muslim personal law, he said, "The law of the land respects personal law."

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar also asked Congress to clarify whether it endorsed Khurshid's remark that the issue was an 'individual' one.

"The BJP wants the Congress and its alliance partners to make their stand clear on the Imrana issue immediately," he said.

UP Chief Minister and SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav defended the fatwa saying the decision taken by the Muslim clerics must have been 'well thought'.

On the other hand, Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat termed the edict 'a serious violation of human rights' and said in Lucknow, "If the personal law of any community infringes upon the genuine rights of women, the law of the land should take centrestage and impart justice."

He pointed out that reforms were required in personal laws of all communities to protect the rights of women.

Meanwhile, a team of the National Commission for Women led by chairperson Girija Vyas will visit Muzaffarnagar on Thursday to talk to Imrana and hold meetings with her family members.

Vyas will also meet the district magistrate, the superintendent of police and members of the community panchayat, which disallowed the woman from living with her husband after the alleged rape incident.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board said in Pune that Imrana's father-in-law Ali Mohammed should be given the severest punishment even as it supported the ruling of Deoband seminary.

"Rape is considered nothing less than murder as per shariat and if it is proved that Mohammed had defiled his daughter-in-law, he should be given the severest of punishment as per the provision of the law," AIMPLB president Syed Mohammed Rabey Al-Hasani Nadvi said.

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