Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Bilkis Bano case; Convicts released for good behaviour, after Union approval: Gujarat tells SC

The Gujarat BJP government has told the Supreme Court that it decided to release the 11 Hindu men who are the convicts in the Bilkis Bano tape case on completion of their 14 years sentence as their “behaviour was found to be good” and after approval from the Union government.

The Gujarat government has also said to the top court that the decision was taken as per the policy dated 09.07.1992 “as directed by” the Supreme Court of India and not “under the circular governing grant of remission to prisoners as part of celebration of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,’ Live Law reported.

The Gujarat government’s submissions have been made in response to the petition filed by Subhashini Ali, a member of the Communist Party of India(Marxist), journalist Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha Verma against the pre-mature release of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

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 were sentenced to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family.

A special CBI court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008 had sentenced the 11 eleven accused to life imprisonment, and the conviction was later upheld by the Bombay high Court.

Bilkis Bano, who is now in her forties, was five months pregnant when she was brutally gangraped by Hindutva men in Muslim genocide in 2002 in Gujarat, which saw nearly 2,000 Muslims killed in some of the worst anti-Muslim pogroms India has experienced. Seven members of Bano’s family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on the ground by the perpetrators.

Bano and two of her children were the only survivors among a group of 17 Muslims.

The 11 men, released on 15 August when India celebrated 75 years of independence from British rule, were convicted in 2008 of rape, murder and unlawful assembly.

The attackers were greeted by relatives and members of right-wing Hindu groups outside the prison who gave them sweets and touched their feet in a traditional Indian sign of respect.

Bano said the decision by the Gujarat state government to free her rapists has left her “numb”, “bereft of words” and shaken her faith in justice.


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