My case is about state’s shameful failure in protecting its people, says Bilkis Bano

“My case is about the shameful failure of the state in protecting its people,” Bilkis Bano told a press conference on Wednesday. She also said she faced a lot of hardship in the years following the 2002 Muslim genocides in Gujarat.

Bilkis Bano, a gang-rape survivor of 2002 Muslim genocides, addressed a press conference at New Delhi. The press conference was held a day after the landmark judgement passed by the Supreme Court on April 23. SC directed the state of Gujarat to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh, a job, and accommodation to Bilkis Bano. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna passed this judgement. This is the first time a compensation of this magnitude has been awarded to a survivor of communal and targeted violence.

“My victory is also on behalf of the many other women, who suffered, and who never managed to reach the courts. I wish to use a part of this money to help other women survivors of communal violence, in their journeys to justice; and to help educate their children,” she said.

“My daughter will study and be a lawyer”

Bilkis Bano

She said her 16-year-old daughter, who was in her womb during the 2002 violence, wants to be a lawyer to fight for justice for others.

Bilkis was five months pregnant when she was gang-raped. The trial in the case initially began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that the witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

A special court on January 21, 2008 convicted and sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment for raping Bano and murdering seven of her family members, while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors.

The High Court, on May 4, 2017, convicted seven people — five policemen and two doctors — under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The top court had on July 10, 2017 dismissed the appeals of two doctors and four policemen challenging their conviction by the High Court saying there was “clear-cut evidence” against them. One of the officers did not appeal.

The convicts had later approached the Bombay High Court and sought to quash and set aside the trial court’s conviction.

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