Indians Join Hands to Demand Justice For Bilkis Bano After Gangrape Convicts Freed

Bilkis Bano - Sakshi Post

Protests were held in many parts of India on Saturday against the Gujarat government’s decision to release all 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano rape case. As India had celebrated its 75th Independence anniversary on August 15, the 11 convicts who were serving life sentences in a case relating to the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of at least seven persons, including a three-year-old child, as part of the riots in Gujarat in 2002 walked out of the gates of a prison in Godhra after the state government approved their application under its remission policy.

Many citizens of India have been protesting since the day the convicts were released. In Karnataka, protests were organized in various parts of the state including Bengaluru, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Davangere, Hassan, Chamrajnagar, Chickmaglur, Ballari, Bidar, Mudhol and Mahalingpur in Bagalkot district and Bijapur. In Delhi, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held a protest at Jantar Mantar. Members of various women’s organisations also staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on Saturday. Protests were also held in Nagpur and Bhopal.

Bilkis Bano, in a statement, called the decision to free the men unjust and said it had shaken her faith in justice. She said, "When I heard that the convicts who had devastated my family and life had walked free, I was bereft of words. I am still numb. 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."

Over 130 former civil servants wrote an open letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) against the recent release of 11 men who were convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. 

Bilkis Bano was 20 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while seven members of her family were killed. The incident took place in February 2002, in the aftermath of the Godhra riots in Gujarat. In January 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai convicted 11 of the 20 and were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 15 August 2022, all 11 convicts walked out of the jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

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