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‘I Do This Today For Women Everywhere’: Bilkis Bano Sends Out Message Of Resillience

Bilkis Bano recently moved to the Supreme Court with two petitions challenging both the remission order of the 11 convicts and the May order of the apex court that considered Gujarat the ‘appropriate’ authority to decide on the remission.

Bilkis Bano with her family
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Standing up and fighting for the rights and human dignity are considered among the best human attributes. And if one wants to take a lesson on resilience, the best teacher is Bilkis Bano.

Bilkis who was gangraped at the age of 21 when she was five months’ pregnant and lost 7 family members including her daughter during post-Godhra riots didn’t turn silent. Rather, it was her resilience against all the odds, that in 2008, a CBI court in Mumbai convicted 11 of the 20 accused and had sentenced them to life imprisonment. However, Bilkis had to even witness their early remission on 75th year of India’s independence. She had to witness the rapists being garlanded and celebrated. Still, she didn’t buckle down.

Recently Bilkis knocked the doors of SC challenging the remission of the 11 convicts. She also urged for the review of the SC’s May decision that actually led to the consideration that Gujarat government is the ‘appropriate’ authority to decide on the remissions.

In a statement issued to PTI, Bilkis said, “I will stand and fight again, against what is wrong and for what is right.”

Expressing her discontent and shock over the remission of the rapists, she added, “The decision to once again stand up and knock on the doors of justice was not easy for me. For a long time, after the men who destroyed my entire family and my life were released, I was simply numb. I was paralysed with shock and with fear for my children, my daughters, and above all, paralysed by loss of hope.”

It is not the first time her presumptions of life threat from the convict is leading her to move to the apex court. In 2004, at the early stage of the trial, Bilkis told the SC about the life threats prompting the apex court to shift the trial from Gujarat to Mumbai.

However, Bilkis is content with the support she has received from different quarters. In her statement she notes, “But, the spaces of my silence were filled with other voices; voices of support from different parts of the country that have given me hope in the face of unimaginable despair; and made me feel less alone in my pain. I cannot express in words what this support has meant to me.”

Emphasising that such support helped her to keep faith on justice and humanity, she continued, “So, I will stand and fight again, against what is wrong and for what is right. I do this today for myself, for my children, and for women everywhere.”

Since the remission of 11 convicts, several petitions had been filed in the SC by social activists and political leaders. However, Bano’s petition is significant on the ground that the convicts have throughout questioned the locus standi of the petitioners who were challenging the remission.

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