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Friday, April 07, 2006

Man who changed Indian politics forever dies: Shah Bano's husband

Shah Bano
Mohammad Ahmad Khan, the husband of the legendary Shahbano died in Indore this week. Khan was 94.

Khan, a lawyer, had given divorce to his 62-year-old wife Shah Bano in 1978 after she had given birth to five children from him.

Shahbano went to the court seeking maintenance and fought up to the Supreme Court that also ruled in her favour. But the turbulent decade of 1980s brought Muslims on the streets.

It was in the backdrop of the Shilanyas and Hindus saw it as another minority appeasement when Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress brought an amendment and enacted the Muslim Women [Protection of Rights] Act.

From here, came the word 'appeasement' or 'tushtikaran'. The word was coined by right-wing to prove that in case of Muslims, even court's judgement is overturned, while Hindus don't get a fair deal despite being the majority community.

The Shahbano case saw the birth of the fiery Syed Shahabuddin and several other leaders. He made several irresponsible comments and gave suc speeches that angered Hindus. Already middle-class was getting lumpenised.

LK Advani seized the opportunity. The rise in communal feelings led to the resurgence of BJP that increased its number from 2 seats to 86 in Parliament. This later caused the demolition of Babri Masjid. The heat is felt till today. Shahbano case was a watershed.

She died a couple of years back in Indore, lonely with almost no media attention. Her husband died now. Their eldest son is a senior lawyer now.