Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the 2002-post Godhra riots, on Wednesday appealed to the Gujarat government to 'undo the harm' done to her with the remission of the 11 convicts, who raped her and murdered 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She urged the state to give back her 'right to live without fear and in peace'.
Her lawyer Shobha Gupta issued a statement on her behalf saying the latest development has shaken her faith in justice.
“Two days ago, on August 15, the trauma of the past 20 years washed over me again. When I heard that the 11 convicted men who devastated my family and my life, and took from me my 3-year-old daughter, had walked free,” Bilkis Bano said in the statement.
Bano further stated that no one enquired and thought about her peace before releasing the convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for their henious crime.
"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,” she said.
She further said, "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 is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts," said the woman, whose fight for justice went on for 18 long years."
On August 15, as India celebrated the 75th anniversary of independence, the 11 accused --- Radheshyam Shah, Jaswant Chaturbhai Nai, Keshubhai Vadaniya, Bakabhai Vadaniya, Rajibhai Soni, Rameshbhai Chauhan, Shaileshbhai Bhatt, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Govindbhai Nai, Mitesh Bhatt, Pradip Modhiya -- walked out of jail and were greeted with sweets and garland by a group linked with the ruling BJP.
The 11 men were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 by a Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court on the charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bano's family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court. All of them were released on Monday.
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.