Kolkata is all set to emerge as the base for a national protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of ushering in an uniform civil code. A three-day conference culminating in a congregation of clerics and lakhs of people from all over the country has been planned on November 20 with active participation by Muslim Personal Law Board members.
The gathering will be held at Park Circus maidan, where minority leaders and lakhs of individuals will congregate. On Friday, imams and Trinamool Congress MPs participated in a protest meeting at the heart of the city before announcing the grand plans for the next month.
“Modi has failed to bring in acche din. There are no signs of the promised development. Now he has resorted to play the communal card by trying to bring in uniform civil code. He has done nothing for the uplift of Muslim women, be it in education or health or jobs. But now he is showing deep concern about triple Talaq,” said Idrsi Ali, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP speaking to HT after the protest meeting.
As many as as three Trinamool MPs -- Idris Ali, Sultan Ahmed and Hassan Ahmed Imran -- led the protest that paralysed the central business district for nearly an hour.
“Muslims all over the country will congregate at Park Circus on November 20 for registering protest. It will give a clear message to Narendra Modi that Muslims are not ready to accept his plans,” said Ali. He also alleged that BJP leaders are resorting to such designs and setting up Ram museum in Uttar Pradesh as a gimmick before the assembly polls in different states.
Significantly, under the rule of Mamata Banerjee Kolkata has been at the forefront of protecting minority rights. Apart from pilloring the BJP on issues such as beef ban, she invited Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali in January 2016 after he was forced to cancel shows in Maharashtra following protests from the saffron camp.
Prominent clerics such as Noor-ur-Rehman Barkati, imam of Tipu Sultan mosque and Maulana Syed Athar Abbas Rizvi, imam of Cossipore mosque were among those who were present in Friday’s protest. Thousands joined bringing the traffic to a standstill.
“Already protests are on in various parts of the country. We will send the message to the Centre that the law commission is not above the Quran,” said Barkati.
“We have already urged all Muslims and secular people to leave their work, shut their shops and businesses to join us on November 20. Religious leaders will explain the tenets of the Quran and why this is unacceptable. Bengal has the most secular environment in the country and will speak for the rights of Muslims,” added Barkati.
Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Barkati claimed that the Centre is trying to alienate Muslims from the mainstream by such initiatives.
“The Modi government believes in gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution. Those who are protesting against the uniform civil code under the garb of right for Muslims are doing so because liberal Muslims, youths or women won’t listen to them,” said Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP national spokesperson told HT from Delhi.