New Delhi, August 16
Opposition parties on Tuesday expressed outrage at the BJP-led Gujarat Government’s decision to remit life sentences of 11 convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape case and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he meant what he said about according respect to women during his Independence Day speech yesterday.
From the ramparts of the Red Fort on Monday, the Prime Minister said routine displays of disrespect to women deeply hurt him. He urged people to honour “Nari Shakti”, saying that women will power the development of India over the next 25 years. “A few hours later the same day, the Gujarat Government released 11 people convicted of the gang rape of Bilkis Bano. We also saw that these convicts are being honoured. We ask the Prime Minister to tell the country whether what he said from the Red Fort yesterday were mere words because he himself does not appear to believe in what he said,” Congress media department chairman Pawan Khera said. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “This is New India.” The TMC and the AIMIM too questioned the PM.
Back in Gujarat, the convicts, sentenced for life over the gang rape and murder of seven members of the Bano family, including her three-year-old daughter, claimed political victimisation even as Bano’s husband Yakub Rasul said he heard of the remissions only through the media.
“I learnt of the remissions only through the media and was surprised. We have no idea when the applications for remissions were processed. We did not get any notice,” Rasul said, adding that the Gujarat Government paid Rs 50 lakh compensation to Bano as directed by the Supreme Court in the matter but a job and a house were yet to be given. Bano was 21 and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped during the riots following the death of kar sewaks in the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in late February 2002.
A special CBI court in Mumbai had in 2008 sentenced 11 people to life in jail in the case and the Bombay High Court had upheld the judgment. Welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the Godhra jail today, one of them said they were targets of “political victimisation.” — TNS
- The power of remissions is subject to judicial review
- The victim can approach the state High Court concerned or the Supreme Court
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