On Monday, the Gujarat government told the Apex Court that the 11 men convicted for gang-raping Bilkis Bano and killing her family members during 2002 riots in Gujarat were prematurely released after getting approval from the Central Government. Moreover, the Gujarat government stated that the convicted gang rapists and the murderers were freed because they had spent 14 years in jail, and their ‘behaviour was found to be good' during that time.
On June 28, 2022, the Gujarat government requested approval from the central government, which was granted within two weeks on July 11, 2022.
The affidavit of the Gujarat government to the Supreme Court shows that the premature release of the convicts was opposed by the Central Investigation Bureau (CBI) and a special civil judge.
In a letter to the superintendent of jail, the CBI wrote that the crime committed by the convicts was “heinous, grave and serious,” so the convicts could not be released prematurely, and no leniency shall be given to them.
While opposing the early release of the convicts, the special civil judge observed, “the crime was committed only on the ground that the victims belong to a particular religion. In this case, even minor children were not spared.”
Bilkis Bano’s seven family members were killed in front of her eyes, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when she was gang raped by the convicts. The atrocity was such that Supreme Court had given the highest-ever compensation to Bilkis Bano in a rape case. The Supreme Court compensated her with a job, a house, and 50 lakh rupees. The special court sentenced all seven convicts to life in prison. The decision of the special court was upheld by the High Court.
Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing the petitions filed against the decision of the Gujarat government to release the convicts. The affidavit, in which the Gujarat government has revealed that it took the central government’s approval, was filed in the Supreme Court as a response to these petitions.
The opposition slammed the central government when the details written in the affidavit were made public by the Press. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “He (PM Modi) talks about women respect from Red Fort, but in reality, he is with the rapists. Difference between Prime Minister’s promises and intentions is clear. He has only cheated women.”
AIMIM’s President Asaduddin Owaisi said, “Bilkis Bano’s rapists were released early after approval from Amit Shah’s ministry. These men were guilty of brutal rape and murder. A three-year-old’s head was bashed with a rock. They were killed only because they were Muslim. For BJP, no crime is too grave if the victims are Muslim.”
Bilkis Bano said that she was neither consulted nor informed by the Gujarat government before deciding to release them prematurely. The order for their early release was passed by the Gujarat government on August 15, 2022.
Edited by Sara Irfan
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