Why did Gujarat release 11 prisoners of the Bilkis Bano gang rape?
Bilkis Bano gang rape case: All 11 life-imprisonment convicts for the 2002 gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of his family in Gujarat have been released. All the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008.
This decision has been taken by the Gujarat government. She was 5 months pregnant when Bilkis Bano was gang-raped.
All the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case acquitted
In 2008, the court had sentenced life imprisonment
Gujrat government released the culprits
All these convicts were in jail for more than 15 years.
After the 2002 Gujarat Godhra massacre, Bilkis Bano was gang-raped and 7 of his family members were also killed by the attackers. In 2008, 11 convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment in this case. One of these convicts had appealed in the Supreme Court for release. The court left the decision of release to the Gujarat government.
Now the Gujarat government has taken the decision of release and its decision is also being criticized. Human rights lawyer Shamshad Pathan told the news agency that a large number of convicts are still in jail who have committed less heinous crimes than in the Bilkis case. He said that when the government takes such a decision, it breaks the victim’s hope from the system.
On 27 February 2002, the coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra station in Gujarat. The kar sevaks were returning by this train. Due to this, 59 kar sevaks sitting in the coach died.
After this the riots broke out. To escape the riots, Bilkis Bano had left the village with her daughter and family.
On 3 March 2002, a mob of 20-30 people attacked with swords and sticks where Bilkis Bano and his family were hiding.
The mob raped Bilkis Bano. Bilkis was 5 months pregnant at the time. Not only this, 7 members of his family were also murdered. The remaining 6 members had fled from there.
Expressing displeasure over this incident, the Supreme Court had ordered a CBI inquiry. The accused in this case were arrested in 2004.
The trial of this case started in Ahmedabad. Bilkis later expressed concern that the trial could lead to intimidation of witnesses and tampering with evidence. After this, the Supreme Court transferred the case from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.
On January 21, 2008, the Special CBI Court sentenced 11 convicts to life imprisonment. The special court acquitted 7 convicts due to lack of evidence. Whereas, one of the convicts died during the trial.
Later the Bombay High Court also upheld the conviction of the culprits. In 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to Bilkis Bano. He also ordered Bilkis to be given a job and a house.
The convicts who have been released in this case include Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohaniya, Pradeep Mordhia, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.
Radheshyam Shah, one of the convicts, had approached the Gujarat High Court to waive the sentence under sections 432 and 433 of CrPC. The Gujarat High Court had rejected his appeal saying that the Maharashtra government can decide in this regard.
After this Shah moved the Supreme Court. He said in his petition that he has been in jail for more than 15 years without any exemption.
On May 13 this year, the Supreme Court said in its order that since the crime was committed in Gujarat, only the Gujarat government can decide on the release.
The Supreme Court had ordered to take a decision on this in two months. After the order of the Supreme Court, the Gujarat government decided to release all the 11 convicts.