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'Brahmins With Good Sanskar': BJP MLA from Godhra Backs Release of Bilkis Bano's 11 Rapists | WATCH

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: August 18, 2022, 22:12 IST

Delhi, India

People convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 post-Godhra riots being welcomed as they come out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy on Aug. 15. (Image: PTI)

People convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 post-Godhra riots being welcomed as they come out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy on Aug. 15. (Image: PTI)

Bilkis Bano has asked the Gujarat government to ensure her safety and of her family members post the release of the convicts

A sitting BJP MLA from Godhra has said that all 11 men, who were convicted for the rape of Bilkis Bano and now released by the Gujarat government after completing more than 15 years in jail, were “Brahmins” and “are known to have good sanskaar”. CK Raulji further backed the convicts and said that the charges were framed against them due to “someone’s ill intention”.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat. Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang raped and seven members of her family were killed by rioters.

The 11 convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment in the case, walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the BJP-led government in Gujarat allowed their release under its remission policy.

“I don’t know whether they committed any crime or not. But there has to be the intention of committing a crime. They were Brahmins and Brahmins are known to have good sanskaar. It might have been someone’s ill intention to corner and punish them,” Raulji, who was a part of the panel led by the Gujarat government that unanimously decided to release the convicts, was purportedly heard saying in a video recorded by the Mojo Story that has gone viral on social media.

The BJP MLA also said that all 11 men had good conduct while serving the jail term in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

According to the Gujarat government, all the 11 life-term convicts were released as per the remission policy prevalent in the state at the time of their conviction in 2008. A top government official rejected claims of contravention of the Centre’s guidelines in the matter. The government’s assertion, enunciated by the senior home department official, came in the wake of opposition claims that the remission for the convicts was a violation of the Centre’s guidelines.

In June this year, the Centre had issued special guidelines to states for the release of convicted prisoners as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. As per the policy, rape convicts were not entitled for premature release from jail. However, according to Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Raj Kumar, the Supreme Court had asked the government to consider early release of these 11 convicts under the state’s remission policy which was in effect when they were pronounced guilty in the case by the trial court.

Gujarat adopted a new and revised remission policy for prisoners in 2014. In that policy, which is currently in effect, there are detailed guidelines about categories of convicts who can or can not be given relief, said the senior bureaucrat.

After walking out of the jail, convict Shailesh Bhatt had claimed that they were “victims of politics.” Bhatt, 63, who said he was a local functionary of the ruling BJP when he was arrested, and others including his brother and co-convict Mitesh left for their village Singor in Gujarat’s Dahod district after walking out of the Godhra jail.

Meanwhile, Bilkis said that the premature release of all the convicts has shaken her faith in justice and left her numb. She has appealed to the Gujarat government to “undo this harm” and give back her right to “live without fear and in peace.”

Criticising the move, she said nobody enquired about her safety and well-being before taking “such a big and unjust decision.” “On August 15, 2022, the trauma of the past 20 years washed over me again when I heard that the 11 convicted men who devastated my family and my life and took from me my three-year-old daughter had walked free,” she said on Wednesday in a statement released by her lawyer Sobha.

She said all she can say is “how can justice for any woman end like this?” “I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice,” she said, adding, “My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts.”

Bilkis Bano has asked the state government to ensure her safety and of her family members post the release of the convicts.

(with inputs from PTI)

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first published:August 18, 2022, 22:06 IST
last updated:August 18, 2022, 22:12 IST