Show us the UCC Bill: Muslim intellectuals exercise caution amid RSS outreach

Show us the UCC Bill: Muslim intellectuals exercise caution amid RSS outreach

Ahead of the next round of meetings between senior members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Muslim intellectuals, members of the Muslim side feel that a discussion on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) should take place only when the Union government comes out with a Bill on the issue.

Senior members among Muslim intellectuals also feel that the time has come for RSS leaders to ensure that leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and any other affiliated organisation do not indulge in hate speech against the minority community.

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“It is true that between the last meeting and the next meeting, the Law Commission has initiated the discussion on the implementation of UCC. However, there is nothing to discuss in this…there is no Bill. I fail to understand what the discussion here is because there is no document,” a senior member on the Muslim side who did not wish to be named told The Federal.

‘Why only Muslims?’

Members on the Muslim side also question why the UCC discussion was primarily circulating for the Muslim view. What about the views of other communities or people of other religions?

“It is sad that the entire discussion on UCC is focused on the view of Muslims and organisations working with the community. Why are the views of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians not being discussed as much?” asked another member of the Muslim community who also attends these meetings.

Further, adding to the UCC debate, leaders of the Muslim side said the UCC would be formed for all the 140 crore people of the country and the law would not be exclusively for Muslims. “This debate on UCC must extend to other communities as well. If the government brings a Bill to Parliament, it will affect all communities and religions. The law will apply to Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians equally. We are not against the implementation of UCC, but there should be more debate and deliberation in the country,” the member added.

Apart from holding discussions with RSS leaders, this group of Muslim intellectuals has formed an organisation called Alliance for Education and Economic Development of Underprivileged (AEEDU) that works in the fields of education of girls and modernisation of madrasas.

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Senior leaders of the Muslim side, who took part in the meeting, said the next round of meeting is expected to take place in the last week of July or in the first week of August. “The meeting was expected to take place in the first week of July, but it got delayed because some of the members were travelling and people were not available to take part in the meeting. So we have decided to hold the next round of discussion soon,” said the member in the know of development.

Focus on hate speech

Apart from the recent debate over UCC, another issue that is likely to come up for discussion is the issue of hate speech against Muslims. Members of the group who took part in the discussions feel that some of the leaders of the ruling BJP and other affiliates of the RSS routinely target the Muslim community with their hate speech.

They feel that the time has come for the senior leadership of the RSS and the BJP to publicly condemn these statements. “We have been complaining about hate speech since the first time. RSS leaders say they too do not like these statements and that such statements have no place in the country, but no action is taken against the BJP leaders who are responsible for making these statements. No action is taken against people who indulge in hate speech,” said the member.

‘On the right track’

Senior leaders of the RSS who are part of the discussions with Muslim intellectuals feel that the dialogue is on the right track, will definitely show results and will also help end differences between both sides.

Members of the RSS further said that just as Muslim intellectuals have expressed their concern over the issue of hate speech, they too have spoken against the repeated use of words like Kafir and Jihad for non-Muslims and also the issue of cow slaughter.

“We are very confident that as these discussions move forward, we will see positive results, and the people of the country will be able to experience the positive impact of these discussions. We are sure that these talks will help the two communities in the long run,” said a senior RSS member in the know of development.

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The RSS member also said that while there was a growing view that the discussion between Muslims and RSS leaders was a new phenomenon, the perception was incorrect as such discussions had been organised earlier too.

“While all Sarsanghchalaks have often met different religious leaders of other communities, Mohan Bhagwat, the present Sarsanghchalak, is also meeting religious and intellectual leaders of different communities. However, the first initiative to hold a dialogue with members of the minority communities was started under the leadership of Madhukar Dattatraya Deoras, the third Sarsanghchalak popularly known as Balasaheb Deoras, when he became chief of the RSS in 1973,” said the RSS leader.

Senior leaders of the RSS said under the leadership of Deoras, Dattopant Thengadi had also started the process of holding regular discussions and dialogues with different religious communities. Thengadi was also a founding member of other RSS-affiliated organisations like Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.

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