“We have been victims of politics”, says a convict after his release from prison
The release of the 11 men convicted in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case showed the mood of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress spokesman Pawan Khera said on Tuesday, PTI reported.
The lifers were released from a Godhra prison on Monday after the Gujarat government approved their request for reduced sentences under its remission policy.
Bilkis Bano was the victim of a gang rape on March 3, 2002, during the Gujarat riots. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter, were murdered by rioters near Ahmedabad. One of the men snatched the girl from her mother’s arms and smashed her head against a rock.
More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the 2002 riots.
“Yesterday, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister said great things about women’s safety, women’s power, women’s respect,” Khera told a news conference on Tuesday. “A few hours later, the Gujarat government released those responsible for the rape. We have also seen that rape convicts who have been released are honored. Is it the Amrit Mahotsav? »
The Congress spokesperson asked Modi if the Prime Minister himself believed what he said in his Independence Day speech.
“Who is the real Narendra Modi?” Khera asked. “The one who serves lies from the ramparts of the Red Fort, or those who get the Gujarat government to release rape convicts? The country wants to know.
Bilkis Bano’s husband Yakub Rassoul said the family did not wish to comment on the release of the convicts at this time, NDTV reported. “We weren’t told about it,” he said. “…All we want to do is pray for the peace of the souls of our near and dear ones who lost their lives in the riots.”
Guidelines of the Center against Government of Gujarat Policy
In June, the Center had written to states and union territories detailing the process by which prisoners could be selected for special discountunder which they would be released on Independence Day.
However, section 5(vi) of the guidelines on the granting of such special remission states that such relaxation cannot be granted to persons convicted of rape, among other crimes. Section 5(ii) of the guidelines also states that special remission should not be granted to persons sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, in April, the Supreme Court ruled that in the Bilkis Bano case, the Gujarat government’s early release policy from July 1992 should be adhered to, as it was the one applicable at the date of sentencing. .
Also Read: Explained: How the 11 Lifers in the Bilkis Bano Gang Rape Case Won Early Release
“Victims of politics”, say the condemned
The 11 men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case were “victims of politics”, Shailesh Bhatt, one of the convicts, said on Tuesday, according to PTI.
“We were arrested in 2004 and stayed in prison for over 18 years,” he said. “It feels good to be at home with my family members. Everyone is happy that we are back. »
Another convict, Radheshyam Shah, also claimed that the eleven men were all innocent. “We were trapped because of our belief in a certain ideology,” he said.