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Ahmedabad, August 17: Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, said on Wednesday the early release of all 11 convicts serving life sentences in a case linked to her and seven members of her family had shaken faith in justice and left it benumbed. .

On August 15, the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 case of the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven members of his family during the riots left Godhra sub-prison after the government of BJP in Gujarat allowed their release under its remission policy.

Criticizing the decision, she said no one inquired about her safety and well-being before taking “such an important and unjust decision”, and called on the government of Gujarat to “repair this wrong” and to restore to him the right to “live without fear and in peace.” “Two days ago, August 15, 2022, the trauma of the past 20 years overwhelmed me again when I heard that the 11 convicted men who devastated my family and my life, and took away my three-year-old daughter, was free,” Bilkis Bano said in a statement released by his lawyer Sobha on his behalf.

She said the government’s decision left her numb.

“I was at a loss for words. I’m still numb,” said the survivor of the gang rape and murder of her family members during one of the worst riots sparked by the Godhra train fire.

She said all she could say today is “how can justice for a woman end like this?” “I trusted the highest courts in our country. I trusted the system and I was slowly learning to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts took away my peace and shook my faith in the justice,” said Bilkis Bano.

“My grief and wavering faith are not for me alone but for every woman who fights for justice in the courts,” she said.

The survivor appealed to the state government to ensure her safety and that of her family members after the release of the convicts.

“I appeal to the government of Gujarat, please fix this wrong. Give me back my right to live fearlessly and in peace. Please make sure my family and I are safe “, she added.

The Gujarat government had released the 11 convicts after the Supreme Court ordered it to consider their claim for compensation under the 1992 surrender policy.

A special court of the CBI in Mumbai had, on January 21, 2008, sentenced to life imprisonment the 11 defendants in the case for murder and gang rape. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

These convicts served more than 15 years in prison, after which one of them went to the Supreme Court with a plea for his early release. The Supreme Court had ordered the Gujarat government to consider remission of his sentence in accordance with its 1992 policy based on the date of his conviction. Subsequently, the government formed a committee and issued an order authorizing the early release of all convicts from prison.

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


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