Reacting to the remission news, human rights lawyer Shamshad Pathan said that a large number of convicts who have committed a less heinous crime than the Bilkis Bano case continue to languish in jails without any remission.
NEW DELHI — All 11 life imprisonment convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape and brutal murder of seven members of her family case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail under the Gujarat government’s remission policy, news agency PTI reported.
These convicts had served more than 15 years in jail after which one of them approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release.
The apex court had directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of his sentence following which the government formed a committee, said Panchmahals Collector Sujal Mayatra, who headed the panel.
“A committee formed a few months back took a unanimous decision in favour of remission of all the 11 convicts in the case. The recommendation was sent to the state government, and yesterday (August 14) we received the orders for their release,” said Panchmahals collector Sujal Mayatra.
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.
On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had 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.
Bano was 21 years old and five-months pregnant when she was sexually assaulted in Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, while fleeing the violence that broke out in the aftermath of the Sabarmati train incident in Godhra. Her three children were also killed during the anti-Muslim riots.
The trial in Bano’s case initially began in Ahmedabad. When Bano expressed apprehensions over witnesses being harmed, the top court, in August 2004, transferred the case to Mumbai.
On January 21, 2008, a special court convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for the incident. It, however, acquitted seven persons including the policemen and two doctors who were accused of tampering with evidence.
The remission of all the 11 dreaded convicts in the case, however, surprised one and all and reactions poured in criticising the remission granted to them.
According to PTI, human rights lawyer Shamshad Pathan said on Monday night that a large number of convicts who have committed a less heinous crime than the Bilkis Bano case continue to languish in jails without any remission.
Pathan said when a government takes such a decision the hope of the victim in the system diminishes.
Bikis Bano’s husband Yakub Rasul told PTI that “we were surprised to know that the convicts have been released.”
“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.
(With inputs from PTI)