The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has decided to form a women’s wing to look into issues such as triple talaq. The Board took the decision on Sunday, the last day of its three-day convention held in Kolkata, PTI reported.

AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jellani said the proposed women’s wing would also deal with other issues such as domestic dispute and education. The Board has decided to set up a national helpline for women of the community that will have Urdu- and English-speaking counsellors to guide the callers. The helpline will be toll free and it will have eight other regional language options.

The Board also passed a resolution that said that the central government was infringing into personal laws of the community. Board member Kamal Farooqi said, “It seems that the government is bringing up this isssue of triple talaq and uniform civil code ahead of UP polls in order to communally polarise people and reap political dividends.” He said “the Shariah laws have their origin in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, and they cannot be modified changed or altered”. The Board said the Centre should discuss with them about personal law and hear their views on it.

On October 30, the Board had claimed that Muslim women did not want a uniform civil code in India because they felt secure under the Sharia law. “It is not the personal law board or the women in it who are against the proposed uniform civil code, but Muslim women in general in the country do not want it. They feel safe and secure under the Sharia law,” Farooqi had said.

The Muslim law body has been on the receiving end of criticism from rights activists for “turning a blind eye” towards how the triple talaq practice makes Muslim women suffer. The Board had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying triple talaq was “permissible” in Islam even though it may be the “least appreciated” means of divorce.

It had also announced its decision to boycott a questionnaire circulated by the Law Commission, which sought views on the implementation of a uniform civil code. Moreover, the personal law board also claimed that its campaign to garner support for the triple talaq practice had been signed by Muslim women from Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

The Supreme Court is in the process of hearing a number of petitions challenging the Islamic practice and seeking a ban on it for being discriminatory. The Centre had told the court on October 7 that the “validity of triple talaq and polygamy should be seen in light of gender justice”, and that triple talaq, polygamy and nikaah halal “were not integral to the practices of Islam or essential religious practices”. There have also been calls to not politicise or communalise the debate on triple talaq and to view it as a separate matter from the proposed uniform civil code.