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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Bilkis Bano: Indian govt approves release of rapists of Gujarat riots

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's govt approved premature release upon request of Gujarat govt

By Web Desk
October 18, 2022
Bilkis Bano fought for justice for a very long time when even the authorities were not on her side. — BBC
Bilkis Bano fought for justice for a very long time when even the authorities were not on her side. — BBC

Eleven Hindu men who were convicted of raping a pregnant Mulsim woman and murdering 14 of her family members during 2002 anti-Muslim riots in India's Gujarat were released despite opposition from a court and federal prosecutors, reported The BBC.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government approved the premature release upon the request of the Gujarat government.

Bilkis Bano saw her rapists go free on India's independence day who were supposed to serve life sentences for their crimes, reported local media.

Shockingly, they were welcomed as heroes as they left the Godhra jail with relatives and friends touching their feet and carrying sweets.

Bano questioned the justice system saying she trusted the highest courts of India. She had appealed to the Gujarat government to "undo the harm".

"No one asked me about my safety and well-being before taking such an unjust decision," NDTV quoted her statement.

However, the Gujarat government sought for federal government's approval for the release of the men. The approval was then granted in July by the home ministry led by Amit Shah.

Bano's husband told India's local media outlets that his wife had been appalled since the news of the release. He said that the battle they fought for years had been wasted.

The family is traumatised and scared. 

During the horrifying anti-Muslim riots that happened two decades ago, Bano was cooking when her aunt told her to run as the homes were being set on fire. They did not even have time to wear slippers.

Along with 17 other Muslims, including her close family, Bano ran. The group journeyed from village to village seeking refuge.

In one of the villages which they thought would be safe, a group of men found them.

The Hindu group attacked the family with "swords and sticks". Unfortunately, the attackers were her own neighbours she had seen growing up.

They were quick to attack the woman and tear off her clothes. Bano's cousin, who delivered a baby on the run was also raped and her newborn was murdered.

Bano survived because the attackers thought she was dead as she lost consciousness.

She fought for justice for a very long time when even the authorities were not on her side.

Eventually, in 2004, the first arrests in the case were made.