M A I N   N E W S

13 guilty in Bilkis case
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 18
A Mumbai sessions court has found 13 persons guilty in the infamous Bilkis Bano rape case dating back to the post-Godhra riots of Gujarat in 2002. The case was being heard by a Mumbai court after it was transferred out of Gujarat on orders of the Supreme Court.

Judge U D Salvi of the special court set up to hear the case found the accused guilty under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376 (rape), of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Those found guilty will be sentenced by the court on Monday.

Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped by some of the accused is also an eyewitness to the slaughter of 14 of her family members. Bano was six months pregnant at the time of the incident. Bano had identified 12 persons as her rapists. Also found guilty was a policeman who allegedly sheltered the attackers and tried to coerce Bano into withdrawing her complaint against them. Five other policemen and two doctors, charged for tampering with evidence in the case, have been acquitted.

The convicted persons include Somabhai Khoyabhai Gori, a senior police officer. Those found guilty of assaulting Bano are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipinchandra Joshi, Kesherbhai Vohania, Pradip Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, Ramesh Chandania. Another accused who was found guilty, Naresh Modia, has since died.

Those acquitted include police officers Narpatsingh Ranchodbhai, Idris Abdul Siayed, Bhikhbhai Patela and B.S. Bhagoria. Doctors Arunkumar Prasad and his wife Sangeeta Prasad were also acquitted. The Bilkis Bano case was transferred to Mumbai after she moved the Supreme Court seeking justice. The Narendra Modi government had closed the case after a local court granted bail to all the accused. The public prosecutor did not oppose the bail plea giving rise to the presumption that the government sided with the accused.

Bano had recounted how the accused, all residents from her village, killed her young daughter by smashing her against a stone. They then went on to rape her. The Bilkis Bano case is the second case after the Best Bakery to be tried by a special court in Mumbai.



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