Govt should talk to protesting Muslim women on CAA, says Padma awardee
PUNE: Muslim reformist leader Sayed Mehboob Shah Qadri alias Sayedbhai who is among this year’s Padma Shri awardees, has urged the Union government to initiate a dialogue with the protesting women and students in New Delhi and resolve the differences over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“I am looking at all the protests and opposition to CAA in various parts of the country. Muslim women in New Delhi have been on a protest for the past many days; similarly, students are protesting on the roads and there was some violence in universities, too. I think the central government should have a proper dialogue with the protesting women, understand their demands and try to resolve the issue,” said 84-year-old Sayedbhai, a crusader for the welfare of women abandoned by their husbands after the “triple talaq” form of divorce which is now outlawed.
“If the Muslim women and people are feeling insecure about their citizenship, then the government should clear their doubts. All of us Muslims are citizens of this country and have not come from outside India. Thus, we have the fullest right on our country,” he said.
Stating that questions about the ancestry of Muslims and their origins were now being raised, he said, “targeting the Muslim community like this is wrong. Let us know if we have committed any mistake. We did not demand Pakistan during the Partition; we always stood by India and will always be with India. Compared to Pakistani Muslims, Indian Muslims are far more happier and we want peace in our country,” he said.
Sayedbhai as he is popularly known, has been working tirelessly for almost half a century for the rehabilitation of Muslim women abandoned by their husbands after triple-talaq. The Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal which he co-founded in 1970, has rehabilitated more than 10,000 women over the last 50 years, he said.
“This award is a recognition of my social work for Muslim women which I began from the age of 20. Today, I feel very happy that the central government has recognised my work and has bestowed me with the Padma Shri. Although I began work on abandoned Muslim women, the work was so vast that I did not limit myself to just Muslims and our organisation provides assistance to women of all faiths,” he said.
The turning point in Sayedbhai’s life came when his sister was divorced by her husband through triple talaq. “She had two children and I tried to convince her husband several times, but he refused to budge. Finally, I realised that something needed to be done for women like my sister,” he said.
Sayedbhai came in close contact with the social activist Hamid Dalwai during the 1970s and on March 22, 1970 the ‘Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal’ was formally launched.
Run by volunteers, this organisation has been giving financial support, legal assistance and vocational training to women abandoned by their husbands, with the goal of helping them stand on their feet.
The Mandal now has branches in many cities in Maharashtra and every year on March 22, awards the ‘Hamid Dalwai Smruti Puraskar’ to a deserving social worker.
Originally from Hyderabad, Sayedbhai’s family moved to Pune at the age of four. With two brothers and four sisters in his family, he started working from the age of 13 to add to the family income.
About his work over the last five decades he said a lot remains to be done and his focus now is create social awareness to prevent horrific crimes against women such as rape. “We see daily that women right from the age of three to 70 are been raped, brutally tortured and killed. Therefore, I have started working on this issue, especially amongst the youth to build respect for women and a willingness to support women in distress.
“There is a need for strict laws to punish violence against women and only then will there be fear in men that they suffer punishment,” he said.