I was sitting on the balcony of my ancestral home in Malegaon, enjoying a cup of afternoon tea, oblivious to the absence of vehicles and dead silence in the busy street below. It was then that I heard a murmur of muffled voices and hurrying feet from the end of our lane. Within minutes, a wave of black had flooded it. An almost silent wave. Thousands of women in hijab, young and old, some carrying placards and some carrying their children, walked purposely towards the center of the town.
I hurried downstairs to know what the march was about, and was promptly shocked – it was in opposition to the Triple Talaq bill passed by the center. The fact that so many women weren’t thrilled about it made me giddy. Were the women so downtrodden that they had grown to resent rights? Or were they being forced into this? I spent a restless afternoon pondering over these questions.
In the evening, as the women returned from their march, I sought Dr Gazala, one of our neighbours, to quell my queries. On being asked why the women were against the bill, she promptly answered that Islam had given women enough freedom, and that they didn’t want central intervention, and that the bill had been passed without consulting those concerned.
While a discussion on whether the Triple Talaq Bill is a necessity for freedom or an encroachment upon religion is a must-have one, it isn’t what I seek to highlight here. What I do seek to draw attention to is the manner in which the protest was handled. Not one piece of government property harmed, not one person injured, not one hateful slogan uttered. Under the guidance of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), all this crowd of over a lakh women (as per unofficial sources) did was hand a petition letter to the Additional Collector reprimanding the bill, which, in their view, is unconstitutional.
In light of recent events, where cities have bowed to protests about quasi-historical films and many lives have been lost in retaliation to one life being lost, a protest like this is a welcome surprise. I hope it initiates a discussion about the merits or fallacies of the bill and garners faith in the way of the father of our nation.