NEW DELHI — India Today’s anchor Rajdeep Sardesai burst into tears during a live TV programme on the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case by the Gujarat government on remission. All the 11 men were found guilty of brutally gang-raping Bilkis Bano and killing of seven members of her family including her three-year-old daughter in cold blood during 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat.
In the course of the TV programme , Sardesai sought to know the stand of Bilkis Bano’s lawyer Shobha Gupta on the release of the convicts. He asked her why the convicts should not be allowed to move on in life; after all, they have already spent a reasonably long period, 15 years to be precise, in jail to atone their sins.
Answering the query by recounting the plight of her client, when Shobha Gupta recounted the trauma of Bilkis graphically blow by blow the anchor became emotional.
She went on to narrate how the woman with five-month pregnancy was gang-raped by those who were known to her, how they crushed her three-year-old daughter to death in front of her very eyes, and how they raped and killed all her family members including her mother and siblings under her watch.
She asked how it feels a woman, who has gone through all this, yet fought a valiant battle for justice against all the odds, braving threat to her life and that of her family all these years, when her tormentors are let loose to harass and intimidate her and her family members.
Visibly moved by listening to the lawyer’s narrative of the heartrending saga of the wronged woman, Rajdeep Sardeshai couldn’t fight back the tears welling in his eyes. For a moment, he tried to hide his emotions by covering his face with arms, but the audience could distinctly read the emotional reaction to the pain of Bilkis writ large on his face.