A day after 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment for Bilkis Bano’s gang rape and murder of seven of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots walked out of jail, her husband said he came to know of their release from the media.
After their release from the Godhra jail on Monday, the convicts, who were also charged with killing the pregnant Muslim woman’s three-year-old daughter, were welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the jail.
We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released, Bilkis Bano’s husband Yakub Rasul told PTI.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the violence that broke out post the Sabarmati train incident in Godhra.
“We don’t know when the convicts processed their application and which ruling the state government took into consideration. We never received any kind of notice, Rasul said.
Rasul said the Gujarat government had paid the family a compensation of Rs 50 lakh as directed by the Supreme Court, but is yet to provide a job or a house as directed by the apex court.
Rasul said he lives virtually in hiding with his wife and five sons, the eldest one 20 years old.
A special CBI court in Mumbai in 2008 sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
The 11 convicts who were granted premature release are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
Radheshyam Shah, the convict whose plea for premature release paved the way for all the 11 life sentence convicts to walk out of jail, said he feels happy to be released.
“The Gujarat government has released us as per the order of the Supreme Court. I feel glad to be out as I will be able to meet my family members and begin a new life,” he said.
“We were convicted and lodged in jail. When I was not released after completing 14 years in jail, I approached the Supreme Court for remission. The apex court directed the Gujarat government to take a decision, after which we were released,” he said.
The convicts were released on Monday under the Gujarat government’s remission policy after they completed more than 15 years in jail.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their release.
In his Independence Day speech, Modi had asked Indians to take a pledge not to do anything that lowers the dignity of women, Owaisi said.
He said something about supporting Nari Shakti. Gujarat BJP govt released criminals convicted of gang rape on the same day. The message is clear, Owaisi tweeted.
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