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'Did Naari Shakti Mean Ladoos To Rape Convicts?': Politicians, Authors, Activists Express Concern Over Release Of Bilkis Bano's Assaulters

The BJP-ruled Gujarat government has come under extreme hate and condemnation following its move to remit the convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in 2008, on the charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bano's family. 

Bilkis Bano with her family.
Bilkis Bano with her family. File photo

On August 15, as India celebrated 75 years of independence, 11 rape convicts of Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the 2002-Godhra riots, walked out of jail after being remitted. On August 17, Bano appealed to the Gujarat government to 'undo this harm' and return to her the 'right to live without fear and in peace'. 

Earlier, Bano's husband, Yakub Rasul told the reporters, "We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released. We don’t know when the convicts processed their application and which ruling the state government took into consideration. We never received any kind of notice."

Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the violence that broke out post the Sabarmati train incident in Godhra. 

The BJP-ruled Gujarat government has come under extreme hate and condemnation following its move to remit the convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in 2008, on the charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bano's family. 

"Those who raped a 5-month pregnant woman and killed her 3-year-old daughter were released during 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday. He further added in Hindi, PM Modi, in the speech from Red Fort, had spoken of "naari shakti" and said we must "not do anything that lowers the dignity of women".

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "Brazenly shameless. Do you really think the Gujarat Govt did the early release without knowledge & approval of PM and HM?"

Congress leader Supriya Shrinate condemned the act on 75 years of independence. 

TMC leader Mahua Moitra said, "This nation had better decide whether Bilkis Bano is a woman or a Muslim."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This nation had better decide whether Bilkis Bano is a woman or a Muslim.</p>&mdash; Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) <a href="https://twitter.com/MahuaMoitra/status/1560081144451702784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 18, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

 

Delhi-based lawyer and activist Kawalpreet Kaur said, "Are we against giving remission to prisoners? Absolutely no. Remission is discretion to be exercised by respective State Govts. In Bilkis case one can see through biased approach. Not only gravity of crime which entails rape, killings, sexual & communal violence was ignored."

She further added, "But the panel deciding on remission/premature release of convicts in Bilkis case included two BJP MLA's as experts. Soon after their release, the convicts were welcomed with garlands! The selective use of discretion to release prisoners of once ideological background is worrying."

Author Kavita Krishnan, condemning the act, said, "Shri @PMOIndia @narendramodi when you said "respect women" y'day, did you mean, give congratulatory laddoos to rapists and killers who have been freed by your party's govt in Gujarat? Are these rapist "uncles" and "brothers" getting laddoos coz they raped Bilkis Bano, a Muslim?"

Journalist Rana Ayyub took to Twitter wrote, "You do not have to be a woman, You do not have to be a Muslim, You do not have to be a critic of the government to be outraged at the acquittal of those who gangraped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members. I wrote here about her struggle."

Earlier, Telangana minister KT Rama Rao ('KTR') also asked PM if he "really meant" what he said on "respecting women" in his August 15 speech. If he meant it, said KTR in his tweet, "I urge you to intervene and rescind the Gujarat government remission order."

In a recent statement, Bano said, "I trusted the highest courts of our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken away from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice. My sorrow and wavering faith are not for myself alone, but for every woman who is struggling for justice,"

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