The women’s wing of the Trinamool Congress on Tuesday began a 48-hour protest against the release of 11 Hindutva men convicted of rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case.
“The release of the accused in the case is shameful and unacceptable. Our fight for justice will continue,” read a tweet of ruling-party in West Bengal.
“The law of the country says that when remission is considered for any prisoner those punished for rape and trafficking are not to be considered,” Trinamool Congress leader Shashi Panja said to PTI.
“We cannot understand how the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case were released,” added Panja, Minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare.
Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had announced the demonstration on 29 August.
“Party supremo Mamata Banerjee has directed us to start a protest against the violence against women in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states and the atrocities which village women are suffering at the hands of central security forces posted along the international border,” said West Bengal finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya, who participated in the protest.
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.