Muzaffarnagar, July 1: A day after she begged to be left alone, a broken Imrana hid herself at her parents’ home at Kukra, refusing to appear before a Shariat court that took up her case for hearing today.
But another victim who had suffered a similar fate has come out in the open, vowing to hit the streets on her behalf.
Rani Begum, a 24-year-old mother of four, had been raped by father-in-law Ali Mohammad, 65, three years ago at their home in Hardauli, Bulandshahr. Her marriage annulled following a local cleric’s edict, she was forced to return to her parents in Subhasnagar, 4 km from here.
Rani, who is fighting in court for alimony, joined the demonstrations against the fatwas on Imrana today and has promised to lead a series of marches when an army of rights activists arrives here next week.
“I know what Imrana is undergoing. I went through the same hell,” Rani said.
Imrana, however, is unlikely to get justice in the Shariat court even if she appears before it, a former official of the court said.
It was Imrana’s brother-in-law Nabiz who had filed the case against the Deoband seminary’s fatwa that she leave her husband.
The court’s president, Allahabad resident Mohammad Imran, did not turn up, leaving vice-president Mufti Yasin to conduct the day’s hearing.
“Imrana was absent but her parents and her brother-in-law were present,” said Mufti Zulfiqar, one of the court’s nine members. He said hearing had to be put off because of Imrana’s absence.
Normally, the Shariat court is convened on the first Friday of every month but Imrana’s relatives were told hearings can be held on any Friday if she agrees to appear.
While the Deoband school enjoys moral authority over the community, the Shariat court is a constitutional body with the power to reverse its fatwa. But sources said the court, like other Shariat courts elsewhere, remains completely under the thumb of the seminary and lacks the courage to go against it.
“The absence of the president is deliberate; the court lacks the will. These courts have always failed to function independently in the districts,” a former mufti of a Shariat court said.
The outcry against the fatwas, however, has prompted the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to decide to call a meeting of its working committee.
“There has been confusion over the different opinions expressed by board members on the Deoband fatwa,” senior member Zafaryab Jilani said in Lucknow, adding that he was working out the date for such a meeting.
The reason that board members have expressed opposing opinions on the fatwa is that they belong to various sects, primarily the Hanafi and Shafai, which have held different views on the subject, Jilani said.
The Deoband fatwa is in accordance with the beliefs of the Hanafi sect, to which most Muslims in Uttar Pradesh belong.
A court yesterday extended by 14 days the remand of Imrana’s father-in-law.