New Delhi: Bilkis Bano, the victim of a horrific crime during the 2002 Gujarat riots, has issued a statement after the 11 convicts involved were freed before their sentence. “No one enquired about my safety and well-being before taking such a big and unjust decision,” she said in the statement.
Her old scars reappeared following the prisoners’ release from a Godhra jail on Monday after the Gujarat government granted their request to have their sentences reduced under its remission policy.
“Today, I can say only this – how can justice for any woman end like this?” she said. “The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice. My sorrow and my wavering faith are not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts.”
She urged the Gujarat government to “correct the harm” caused by the decision and said, “No one enquired about my safety and well-being before taking such a big and unjust decision.”
The video of the convicts receiving sweets and garlands upon release is getting backlash from people across the country. The question of Bilkis Bano’s safety has emerged.
On Wednesday, the Congress intensified its criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by questioning if he agreed with the Gujarat government’s decision to release the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.
Bilkis Bano’s Case
On March 3, 2002, Bano was gangraped while there were riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant. Her three-year-old daughter was one of the seven family members who were killed by the rioters near Ahmedabad. The girl was taken from her mother’s arms by one of the convicts, who then hit her head on a rock.
The BJP government in Gujarat has released all the 11 people convicted for the rape of a pregnant Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots, under its remission policy.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, had sentenced the 11 to life imprisonment on charges of gangrape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
Modi, who was the then chief minister of Gujarat, has been persistently attacked by the Opposition over the 2002 riots which had left 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus dead. The riots had erupted after the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.