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India’s Repeals 89-Year-Old Law Permitting Underage Muslim Marriages Amidst Controversy

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(CTN News) – In a significant development, the Indian state of Assam has decided to abolish an 89-year-old law allowing marriages involving underage Muslims.

Despite facing opposition from leaders within the minority community, who perceive the move as an attempt to exploit religious sentiments ahead of elections, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma confirmed the repeal of the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1935, effective from February 24.

Assam, which boasts the highest percentage of Muslims among Indian states at 34%, has been vocal about its intention to implement uniform civil laws governing marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance.

This move aligns with a similar decision by the state of Uttarakhand earlier this month.

The repealed act had provisions allowing the registration of marriages even if the bride and groom were below the legal ages of 18 and 21. Chief Minister Sarma stated, “This move marks another significant step towards prohibiting child marriages in Assam.”

Controversy Erupts as Assam Government Faces Accusations of Religious Polarization

The decision has, however, ignited controversy, with leaders from the minority Muslim community accusing the government of attempting to polarize voters along religious lines.

The debate around the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code, proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been a point of contention.

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The BJP’s promise of a Uniform Civil Code has faced resistance from the Muslim community.

Addressing concerns about the immediate implementation of a Uniform Civil Code in Assam before the general elections scheduled by May, Chief Minister Sarma indicated that it would not happen immediately.

It is worth noting that many Muslims in Assam can trace their roots to the neighboring Bengali-speaking and Muslim-majority country of Bangladesh.

The region often experiences tensions between Muslims and ethnic Assamese, who are predominantly Hindu. The recent legal change adds a new dimension to the ongoing social and political dynamics in the state.

India: BJP Faces Accusations of Discrimination

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), currently in power in Assam and Uttarakhand, finds itself at the center of controversy as it champions the repeal of a colonial-era law pertaining to Muslim marriages.

The party, which claims to be the advocate for ethnic communities, has faced strong opposition from Muslim leaders who argue that scrapping the law is discriminatory.

The repealed law, the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1935, had permitted the registration of marriages involving underage Muslims.

The BJP’s decision to abolish this provision has been met with criticism from Muslim opposition leaders who accuse the party of attempting to polarize voters by targeting the Muslim community.

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Badruddin Ajmal, a lawmaker from Assam and the head of the All India United Democratic Front, an entity primarily advocating for Muslim causes, expressed his concerns on Saturday.

He stated, “They want to polarize their voters by provoking Muslims, which Muslims will not let happen. It’s a first step towards bringing a Uniform Civil Code, but this is how the BJP government will come to an end in Assam.”

The accusation of discrimination revolves around the perceived targeting of Muslim communities through the repeal of a law that specifically applied to them.

The political landscape in Assam is becoming increasingly charged as the BJP’s actions are seen as steps toward the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code, a move vehemently opposed by the Muslim community.

As tensions rise, the BJP faces challenges not only in Assam but also in Uttarakhand, where similar decisions have been made. The repeal of the colonial-era law is poised to have broader implications, shaping the political dynamics and voter sentiments in the upcoming elections.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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