Rajya Sabha Clears Triple Talaq Bill

In a major political victory for the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the bill to ban instant triple talaq even as Opposition termed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill, 2019 as “unconstitutional”.

The upper house of Parliament also declined the demand that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee of Parliament for further scrutiny.

Participating in the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Left parties opposed the Bill. The NDA constituents — AIADMK and Janata Dal-United — also opposed the Bill and staged a walkout.

AIADMK’s A Navaneethakrishnan said the Bill will not stand judicial scrutiny and demanded that it should be referred to the Select Committee. “Muslim marriages are a civil contract and the offense of flouting a civil contract cannot be made into a criminal offense. The Bill is unconstitutional, illegal and not sustainable under the law,” he said.

The AIADMK leader said the practice of triple talaq has already been declared null and void and unconstitutional. Party members later staged a walkout.

JD(U) members also opposed the bill and walked out. Besides, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, four lawmakers from the Congress and two from the Samajwadi Party also remained absent, thus tilting the number game in favour of NDA.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad questioned the government’s intention for bringing the Bill and said it was a “misnomer” and “politically motivated”.

“We are not against women’s empowerment but please don’t target a specific community. If you want women to empower, why don’t you bring the Reservation Bill? The Bill claims to protect Muslim women but the idea is to destruct Muslim families. I strongly oppose the Bill,” he said.

Calling the Bill impartial and unconstitutional, he said the government should also think about women of other religions, who are victims of divorce.

Claiming that the Bill was reintroduced after “cosmetic surgery”, he asked the government to refer it to the Select Committee.

Opposing the Bill, Trinamool’s Dola Sen urged the government to remove the draconian criminality clause from the Bill which provides to send the husband to jail for three years for pronouncing triple talaq.

“Will the wife not be allowed to re-marry for three years? What will she do once the husband is out of jail? If this government is really serious about women’s empowerment, bring the Women’s Reservation Bill. Please introduce the Bill which will benefit 60 crore women,” she said.

Urging the members to vote against the Bill, she said the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee for scrutiny.

“If you actually stand for women’s empowerment, send this Bill to a committee. If you stand for Parliament, send this Bill to a Select Committee,” she said.

SP’s Javed Ali Khan said that criminalising a civil offence shows that the intention of the government was suspicious. He accused the BJP of doing politics and said the Bill was brought for scoring political points.

BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, NCP’s Majid Memon, and RJD’s Manoj Jha also opposed the Bill and questioned the government’s intention behind bringing the Bill.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill, 2019, popularly called Triple Talaq Bill, was on Tuesday introduced by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Rajya Sabha.

The Bill that proposes to protect the rights of married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by pronouncing talaq by their husbands has been passed by the Lok Sabha.

Introducing the Bill, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Bill should not be seen from the political prism and it should not be seen as vote bank politics.

“It’s an issue related to humanity…it is related to the dignity of the women…It is an issue of gender justice and equality,” Prasad said while introducing the Bill.

Indian Tiger Census 2018

Modi Releases Tiger Census 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the release of the results of 4th cycle of All India Tiger Estimation 2018, on the occasion of the Global Tiger Day, in New Delhi on Monday. Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Information & Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo are also presented. ]]>
My Employer Spiked My Drink

Outrage Over Unnao Rape Victim 'Accident'

Following widespread outrage, Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday registered a murder case against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and nine others for the road accident in which the Unnao rape victim and her lawyer were seriously injured, while two of her aunts were killed.

Earlier in the day, police said that the case would be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The case has been registered under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).    

Opposition leaders and the media highlighted the issue all through the day, pointing out to the series of deaths in the case even as the “influential accused” was behind the bar. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi and Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav termed the “accident” a travesty of justice in the state.

Police lodged the FIR on the complaint of Mahesh Singh, the husband of Pushpa Singh, who died in the mishap along with another aunt of the Unnao rape victim. She and her lawyer were critically injured and are currently under treatment at a hospital in Lucknow.

The FIR has been registered at Gurubaksganj police station here.

In the FIR, Mahesh Singh has stated that “we used to get threats from Kuldeep Singh Sengar, Manoj Singh Sengar, Vinod Mishra, Haripal Singh, Naveen Singh, Komal Singh, and some 15-20 others.”

“They used to tell us that we should take the court case back or we will be killed. They used to say that if I want to see my family alive and safe, we should apologise to the minister and take back the case.”

“They used to say that Unnao ASP Ram Lal Verma was shot dead by the minister’s brother Atul Singh, and nobody did anything. So what will you do? I believe that this has been done by the minister with the intention of killing my family,” he has stated in the FIR.

Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Rajeev Krishna told reporters in Lucknow that a case has been registered in the matter on the basis of the complaint of the uncle of the victim, who has also requested for the matter to be transferred to the CBI.

“The case is being registered on the complaint of Mahesh Singh, uncle of Unnao rape victim. He has also requested for the transfer of this case to the CBI. We are getting a report on that request. As soon as that report comes, it will be recommended to the CBI,” he said.

Police have also informed that they are probing the mobile numbers of the driver of the truck which collided with the vehicle carrying Unnao rape victim, her family members, and lawyer.

“We are investigating if the numbers of driver, cleaner and owner (of the truck) match with known numbers of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, accused in Unnao rape case, and his associates,”  Krishna.

He added that the police have arrested the owner, driver, and cleaner of the truck which was involved in the accident. The forensic team also reached the spot of the accident in Raebareli and has begun its investigation.

The gunman given to the rape victim for her protection claimed that he was not present in the vehicle as per the request of the rape victim and her family members.

“The victim and her family members told me that the vehicle is a small one and it will be difficult to accommodate one more person. They asked me to stay back and said there will be no hassles as they are returning before evening,” he said.

The accident took place on Sunday when the victim was on her way to Raebareli from Unnao. The vehicle in which she, her two aunts and lawyer were travelling collided with a truck.

While the two of the victim’s aunts succumbed after the accident, she and her lawyer are grievously injured.

BJP MLA Sengar is the prime accused in the rape case of the minor girl. He is a BJP MLA from Bangarmau in Unnao and was arrested by the CBI in April last year. The teen was allegedly raped by the BJP MLA at his residence in Unnao on June 4, 2017, where she had gone to seek a job.



Yediyurappa Wins Trust Vote, Speaker Quits

In yet another day of hectic developments in Karnataka politics, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday won a vote of confidence in the Assembly and Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar resigned from the post shortly after that.

76-year-old Yediyurappa, who was sworn in as Chief Minister on Friday after the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, sailed through comfortably with a voice vote after the strength of the Assembly was brought down by the Speaker disqualifying 14 MLAs on Sunday.

Moving the trust vote the chief minister promised not to indulge in vindictive politics and said he believes in “forget and forgive”.

“I love people who oppose me as well. I want to thank Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda for giving me the opportunity,” Yediyurappa said in the Vidhan Soudha today.

Soon after Yediyurappa’s trust vote, the Speaker resigned from his post. His resignation came amidst reports that the BJP was planning to move for his removal.

The BJP has been upset with the Speaker that he had not acted on the resignation of the rebel MLAs and instead chose to disqualify them.

Earlier, opposing the confidence motion, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah fired a fresh salvo at the BJP, alleging that the ruling dispensation cannot provide a stable government in the state.

“We hope you (B S Yediyurappa) will be the chief minister but there is no guarantee for that. You are with the rebels, can you give a stable government? It’s impossible! I oppose this confidence motion because the reason is this government is unconstitutional and immoral,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Yediyurappa has never been CM with people’s mandate. Where’s the mandate? You didn’t have it in 2008, 2018 or even now. When he took the oath, there were 222 MLAs in House, where did BJP have 112 MLAs for the majority? They had 105 seats. That is not a mandate,” the former chief minister remarked.

The chief minister, however, said that administration in Karnataka had come to a standstill under the previous Congress-JD(S) government.

“When Siddaramaiah and H D Kumaraswamy were chief ministers, they did not indulge in vindictive politics. Administration has failed and we will set it right. I assure the House that we will not indulge in vindictive politics either. I believe in forget and forgive,” he said.

He announced two instalments of Rs 2,000 to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan scheme by the state government as an additional benefit and appealed to the Opposition to work together.

“There is drought (in the state). I want to address the farmers’ issues. I have decided to give 2 instalments of Rs 2000 to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Kisan scheme from the state’s side. I appeal to the opposition that we must work together. I appeal to the House to unanimously express confidence in me,” Yediyurappa said.

Highlighting the development works done by the 14-month old coalition, Siddaramaiah welcomed Yediyurappa’s assurance that he would work for the people.

“We discussed HD Kumaraswamy’s confidence motion over the last four days. I too participated in that and I do not wish to speak about it. I could have spoken about circumstances under which Yediyurappa became the Chief Minister. I wish him well and welcome his assurance that he will work for the people,” he said.

Yediyurappa was sworn-in as the 25th chief minister of Karnataka on July 26, following the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) government after it lost the trust vote.

Currently, there are 105 BJP members supported by an Independent. Both Congress and JD(S) have 100 members in the 225-member House. The majority mark stands at 104, after 17 MLAs were disqualified by Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar under the anti-defection law.


Pakistan-US Ties

Trump Has Pushed India-Pak Dialogue Further Away

Donald Trump’s strategy on South Asia is not long term; it is focused only on getting his troops out of Afghanistan. Pakistan will use this trump card to get itself out of its current quagmire

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first meeting with President Donald Trump was an unqualified success from Islamabad’s point of view. After raving and ranting against Pakistan’s perfidy, Trump was on a charm offensive when Khan arrived at the White House.

Will the rapprochement between the US and Pakistan change equations in South Asia, particularly its ties with India? Much will depend on how much Pakistan can influence the Taliban and whether a political deal materializes in Afghanistan. For now India has to wait and watch how the situation pans out.

Significantly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister was accompanied by both army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI boss Faiz Hameed for the crucial meeting to reset ties. This perhaps to emphasise that the civilian and military leaders were on the same page and eager to stabilize Pakistan.

The talks centred round Afghanistan as Trump focused on getting Pakistan’s support for a peace deal to “extricate’’ American troops from that country. Trump’s one point agenda at the moment is to quit Afghanistan before Presidential elections next year, to notch up his election promise of ensuring that America is not the world’s policemen, nor is he interested in spreading democracy in far of regions. To do this, he wants Pakistan’s help and Islamabad will play its Afghan card to the hilt in getting Trump to endorse its position vise-a-vise India.

What was a diplomatic victory for Pakistan was mention of Kashmir. The US President declaring he was willing to act as mediator between India and Pakistan. To make things worse Trump said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had asked him to do so. Hours later India refuted the US President’s claims. This was dismissed by those in the know as a usual Trump-speak with little to do with actual fact. No Indian Prime Minister, be it Modi or anyone else, will ever ask for third party intervention on Kashmir. Mediation is Pakistan’s calling card, not India’s.

The warm meeting at the White House and Trumps take on Kashmir is of some significance to India. For one, Delhi’s rhetoric on isolating Pakistan has come a cropper. Anyway, right from the start the wording was wrong. A country like Pakistan with a population of over 208 million, cannot be isolated from the world. What Delhi meant was that it would talk to the major world powers to show up Pakistan’s role as a terror hub. It was not a difficult task as the world was ready to be convinced.

The US and NATO allies had already experienced Pakistan’s double standards on terror in Afghanistan. At the time when the US and Pakistan were working closely to arm and train the Mujahideen to fight Russian occupation of Afghanistan, the US and its allies were stone deaf to Indian arguments on Pakistan based terror groups working against India in Kashmir and aiming to bleed India through these terror outfits. Is there a chance that the old narrative would occur again? Unlikely, as the Pakistan army has exposed itself blatantly in Afghanistan. But Trump can block all this out if necessary to get cooperation on the Taliban. And Islamabad knows that.

Afghanistan will be used smartly by Pakistan to get itself out of its current quagmire. Trump’s strategy is not long term. For the moment he is focused on getting his troops out of Afghanistan, and for that he is willing to play ball with Imran Khan. If Pakistan cannot deliver Trump may revert back to his old ways and blame Pakistan, but for now he will give Islamabad a long rope. Yet having had excellent ties in the past, and worked closely with the Pakistan army, many lawmakers in the US, especially the revived Pakistan Caucus in the US, believe that by withdrawing from that country, America has left a vacuum which is being filled by China. They would bat for more engagement.

Trump has little interest in Kashmir or charges of human rights abuse there. But he would be open to the idea of India and Pakistan resuming their stalled dialogue to reassure the GHQ in Rawalpindi,that they need not worry about India, but concentrate on getting the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government representatives. So there will be pressure for India and Pakistan to normalize ties. At the moment Narendra Modi will do little, as he would draw flak from the opposion as well as hardliners within his support base. The mediation request that Trump spoke of would be revived if he does so immediately.

But Modi is not averse to the idea of talks. He tried his hand at peace making during his first tenure. Delhi would like to wait and watch to see if Pakistan’s crack down on terror outfits is for real and not because of the fear of the Paris based Financial Action Task Force, placing the country on the black list. Pakistan’s case will come up for review in October. Few in India believe that Imran Khan could be in any position to make much of a difference. So Modi would be merely wasting his time and energy by engaging with Islamabad. Many within the RSS and BJP believe that the only way to deal with Pakistan is to strengthen India’s defences and hit back hard whenever a terror attack occurs. For the rest of the time, Pakistan can be ignored.

That is a limiting view. The world wants India to engage with Pakistan. Apart from the US, China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Russia and the EU all want temperatures to come down between the two nuclear armed neighbours. A South Asia where India and Pakistan have normal ties, the region would be much more stable.

But even if talks are resumed, would it lead to any breakthrough? For the moment it is hard to imagine. Positions on either side are cast in stone on Kashmir. A blue print is actually already in place to initiate the process. President Pervez Musharraf was pragmatic enough to agree to the Loc becoming the border, better trade and connectivity between the two Kashmir’s and more people to people contacts would be a good way to begin. But before Musharraf could work on the formula, the lawyers agitation distracted him and the proposals were never seriously discussed afterwards. Successive Pakistani governments have thrashed the idea and Musharraf since being out of power has also disowned it.

Whether a final solution emerges or not, dialogue must be resumed. Firing across the LoC must stop. Civilians on both sides are sadly affected. India should not continue to oppose SAARC. It is not fair to the rest of the member states.

The government needs to focus on jobs and development if Modi’s ambitions of making India a five trillion dollar economy is to be achieved in the next few years. He and the entire country need to focus on the economy. That can happen only when the neighbourhood is at peace.