No matter how much we cry out that the release of the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano case is first an injustice on a woman and then on a Muslim, an average Indian is bound to give the second more preference.
New Delhi: Two issues — Prophet Muhammad row and Bilkis Bano — one religion-Islam-one party — BJP — but two different takes is not only preposterous but also does it speak volumes about a preferential treatment. And no matter how much we cry out that the release of the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano case is first an injustice on a woman and then on a Muslim, an average Indian is bound to give the second more preference, more so when the BJP is giving enough reasons to the people to question its appeasement politics.
The saffron party has always slammed appeasement politics, much hypocritically since its own stance is nothing more than an appeasement of a different religion. But when it came to the Prophet Muhammad row, it seemed to be appeasement for a different reason – to keep Islamic countries happy. It is only after countries such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Malaysia and others slammed India over ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and party leader Naveen Jindal’s comments did our leaders take action against the motormouths. Even after the issue settled down, on Tuesday it suspended its Hyderabad MLA T Raja Singh for similar comments, making it clear that the party will not entertain anything ill against the Prophet.
When Islamic countries had started registering their protests in the strongest manner, by summoning Indian embassy officials and issuing statements, the embassies were quick to respond “in line with our civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, government of India accords the highest respect of all religions”. But then there were reasons why India had to scurry to ensure international ties are kept intact.
It is important to note that the Gulf is home to probably the largest chunk of India’s diaspora living abroad and also a vital source of remittances. According to rough estimates, the UAE alone hosts almost 3.5 million Indians, which is the largest Indian expatriate population in any country, accounting for 20% of India’s total remittance inflow. Secondly, and most importantly, India imports close to 40% of its fuel from Iran and the Gulf. Although, of late it has found a new source -Russia.
So, is India waiting for international admonishment yet again? Will it act against the Gujarat government for releasing the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano case only after pressure from abroad?
It is also surprising to note that while the BJP government speaks highly of its “double engine” governments, it has been unable to maintain parity when it comes to justice for Muslim women. While the Centre, spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, plays hard to ensure a ban on practices such as triple talaq and Modi asserts his government’s commitment to safeguard all Muslim women, it seems his associates back in his home state are not on the same page with him. While requesting the states to release convicts on the occasion of the 75th Independence Day, the Centre had made it clear that no rape convicts should be released but the Gujarat government had a Supreme Court order to its aid which justifies the state government’s decision although there were several other things it could have done.