A BJP leader stoked a controversy in the Odisha Assembly on Thursday when he said “Muslim women dominated the red-light areas of Mumbai and Kolkata” while speaking in support of the “triple talaq” bill.
B C Sethi, the deputy leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the House, quoted “survey reports” from magazines and newspapers during Zero Hour to justify his claim even as members of the Congress and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) demanded that the statement be immediately expunged from the records.
“What is wrong in quoting survey reports in the House? I have not made any adverse remark against any community, but quoted survey reports that say Muslim women dominate the red-light areas in Mumbai and Kolkata,” Sethi said.
He was replying to Congress members, who had criticised the BJP-led central government for pushing through the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in Parliament.
The Congress members had on Wednesday said the bill should have been amended before it was passed by Parliament.
President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the “triple talaq” bill on Thursday, making the practice of instant divorce among Muslims a punishable offence.
Sethi claimed that some political parties, with an eye on minority votes, were opposing the legislation.
“The opponents of the ‘triple talaq’ bill should keep it in mind that the legislation was passed in Parliament on humanitarian grounds to protect the interest of the women at large,” he said.
The practice of “triple talaq” was abolished in 38 countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh, the BJP leader maintained.
“The ‘triple talaq’ bill has nothing to do with religion and is aimed at eradicating a social evil. Now, one cannot divorce his wife just by uttering ‘talaq-talaq-talaq’ in an inebriated state or via a mobile phone message,” he added.
Speaker S N Patro said he would examine the remarks of the BJP member and requested the Congress lawmakers, who were agitating in the well of the House, to return to their seats.
When the agitating MLAs refused to budge and attempted to climb up to the speaker’s podium, Patro adjourned the proceedings till lunch.