New Delhi: Around 6,000 signatories, including activists, eminent writers, historians, filmmakers, journalists and former bureaucrats, have urged the Supreme Court of India to revoke the early release of 11 rapists in the Bilkis Bano case.
In 2008, these men had been sentenced to life for gang-raping 21-year-old Bilkis Bano, who was also five months pregnant, and murdering 14 people, including Bano’s three-year-old daughter, during the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, The Wire reported.
The convicts walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government approved their application for remission.
“On the morning of August 15, 2022, in his Independence Day address to the nation, the Prime Minister of India spoke of women’s rights, dignity and ‘Nari Shakti’. That very afternoon, Bilkis Bano, a woman who embodied that ‘Nari Shakti’ in her long and daunting struggle for justice, learnt that the perpetrators who killed her family, murdered her three-year-old daughter, gang-raped and left her to die, had walked free,” the signatories said in a joint statement, as per The Wire report.
“The remission of sentences for the 11 [men] convicted of gang-rape and mass murder will have a chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, ‘have faith’,” it said.
“Most importantly, in a case investigated and prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, no remission can be granted by a State without concurrence by the Centre. That such a remission was even considered, and then permitted, reveals the hollowness of the public posturing about Nari Shakti, Beti Bachao, women’s rights and justice for victims…Hence, the statement urged the Supreme Court to undo this grave miscarriage of justice,” it added.
Meanwhile, a number of several experts have questioned whether the Gujarat government violated the GoI guideline by releasing the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.