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Unprecedented opposition to Gujarat govt decision to release Bilkis Bano case convicts

In a decision that has isolated the BJP, the state government in Gujarat ordered to release 11 convicts who were sentenced to life in the 2002 Gujarat riot case. Read More

Thursday August 18, 2022 3:40 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Bilkis Bano Case

New Delhi/Ahmedabad: In a rare show of unanimity, Gujarat government’s decision to release Bilkis Bano case convicts is facing unprecedented opposition from various rights groups and political parties.

In a decision that has isolated the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the state government in Gujarat ordered to release 11 convicts who were sentenced to life in the 2002 Gujarat riot case, infamous as ‘Bilkis Bano case’.

Bilkis Bano Case Summary

A special CBI court in Mumbai in 2008 sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The convicts were released on Monday under the Gujarat government’s remission policy after they completed more than 15 years in jail.

Making worse for the ruling party – both in the state as well as centre, videos of people greeting the 11 convicts with sweets and flowers were widely shared on different social media platforms.


Reacting on the state government’s decision, Bilkis Bano, the survivor of one of the most horrific rape cases during the 2002 Gujarat riots, said she was “numb” and “shaken”.

"How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma... My sorrow and my wavering faith are not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts," said Bilkis in the statement.

"No one enquired about my safety and well-being, before taking such a big and unjust decision," she said.

"Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace. Please ensure that my family and I are kept safe," the statement read.

Bilkis Bano was 21 when she witnessed the murder of seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. Seven other relatives, who she says were also killed, were declared "missing".

SC intervention sought

Terming the release of 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case by the Gujarat government as shameful, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader K. Kavitha on Thursday appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene and take immediate action.

The member of Telangana Legislative Council said the decision to release the culprits of heinous crimes like rape and murder on the auspicious occasion of Independence Day has tarnished the divinity of the day.

The former MP said the shameful decision must be withdrawn immediately so that citizens don't lose their faith in law and there are no more cases like the Nirbhaya case and no lady has to go through what Bilkis Bano suffered.

She stated that the BJP government in Gujarat has displayed insensitivity by releasing the rapists of the then five-month pregnant Bilkis Bano and the murder of her 3-year-old child. This is not only against the law but stands against humanity.

"Being a woman I can feel the pain and fear experienced by Bilkis Bano. The welcome shown to the rapists and murderers after getting released from jail by some people who follow a certain ideology is a slap on the face of a just society. It is imperative to stop this extremely dangerous tradition before it takes the form of a legacy," the MLC said.

Is this respect for women?

Kavitha's brother and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervene and rescind the Gujarat government's order.

"If you had really meant what you spoke about respecting women, urge you to intervene and rescind the Gujarat Govt remission order releasing 11 Rapists," tweeted Rama Rao.

He was referring to the Prime Minister's speech on Independence Day.

"Double Standards"

The Congress on Wednesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the release of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case with Rahul Gandhi saying the entire country is seeing the difference between the PM's words and deeds.

"Those who raped a five-month pregnant woman and killed her three-year-old daughter were released during 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav'. What message is being given to the women of the country by those who peddle lies about 'Nari Shakti'?" Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

Also Read | From destruction of wombs to liberators of Muslim women: Politics of Hindutva

"Prime Minister ji, the entire country is seeing the difference between your words and deeds," he said.

The Congress also asked whether it was possible for the Gujarat government to approve early release of the convicts without knowledge and approval of Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Attacking the PM, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked if the release of the criminals convicted for the gangrape of a pregnant woman and killing of her daughter by the BJP government as well as their welcome in front of the camera, is not the height of injustice and insensitivity.

'Nari Shakti, a farce?'

Former Home Minister and SC lawyer P. Chidambaram while questioning the remission of sentence in the Bilkis Bano case and said that when the CBI was the prosecuting agency did the Gujarat government consult the Union government.

Chidambaram in a tweet said on Thursday:

"The settled position of law is that in a case where the prosecuting agency was the CBI, the state government is obliged to consult the central government before granting remission of sentence."

He said the obvious questions that arose were:

"Did the Government of Gujarat consult the Central government? and Next, what was the view of the central government?"

"It is unimaginable that the Gujarat government would have defied the view of the central government. Let the PM and HM answer these questions. They cannot hide behind the wall of silence under the Gujarat model, Nari Shakti is defeated by Vinash Shakti (sic)," he added.

Congress leader Manish Tewari after the Gujarat government’s decision to release the rapists took up the case of Sikh prisoners languishing in jails and called for uniformity in the definition of remission policy.

"There must be uniformity across the country about definition of life imprisonment and remissions permissible.”

"While some convicts walk free after 15 years others languish in jail for 30 years or more? Classical case - Sikh Prisoners in jail for 03 decades (sic)," he said in a tweet.

“A biased decision”

Hyderabad MP and AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP government in Gujarat for releasing, under its remission policy, 11 people who were convicted in the infamous rape case.

Speaking to the media at party headquarters in Darussalam, he said:

“We condemn this. The country is watching how the BJP gives only lip service to women’s empowerment and respect for women. But when it comes to Muslim women, they forget them.”

Owaisi sought to know from the PM whether the release of these convicts is an example of women’s empowerment, a subject the latter touched upon.

Owaisi also charged the BJP with being biased and said that the party takes decisions that “benefit one community”.

“If that is the case, then release those who are in jail for Godhra, Rubina Memon who has been in jail for 17 years, despite the vehicle not being in her name. Those who are in jail for the Vadodra serial blasts. But you (BJP) are biased toward only one community. This is the reality of the BJP,” he said.

“New India?”

In a tweet, the CPI (M) also strongly condemned the release of the convicts, saying:

"This is the real face of New India -- convicted killers and rapists released and activist Teesta Setalvad who fought for justice was jailed".

Trinamool Congress (TMC) Spokesperson Saket Gokhale said Bilkis Bano was "raped in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and her entire family was murdered and buried in a mass grave".

"Gujarat govt has now released all 11 monsters who were convicted of this heinous crime. Where's the outrage by people and the Noida media? Not even a whimper (sic)," he tweeted.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP Danish Ali also referred to the prime minister's remarks and said the release of 11 convicts has exposed the huge gap between words and the spirit of justice.

"The world is watching but who cares in 'New India'?" he tweeted.

Meanwhile, despite the all-around outrage against the BJP government’s controversial decision, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has decided to fight the ensuing state elections on all 120 seats, is maintaining a guarded silence.


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