Bilkis Bano made an impassioned appeal to the Gujarat Government to undo the harm and give back her right to live without fear and in peace.
NEW DELHI — Bilkis Bano, the brave woman who successfully fought a protracted court battle to ensure justice for herself and her family, says her faith in judiciary has broken on hearing that the convicted 11 men who devastated her family and her life and took away her three-year-old daughter and killed her have walked free from jail.
“Two days ago, on August 15, 2022 the trauma of the past 20 years washed over me again. I was bereft of words. I am still numb. How can justice for any woman end like this,” she said in a statement while making an impassioned appeal to the Gujarat Government to undo the harm and give back her right to live without fear and in peace.
“I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice,” Bilkis Bano said.
“My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts,” she said.
No one enquired about my safety and well-being before taking such a big and unjust decision, said Bilkis Bano in a statement released by her lawyer Sobha on her behalf.
On August 15, all the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 case of Bilkis Bano’s gang rape and murder of her seven family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the BJP government in Gujarat allowed their release under its remission policy.
A special CBI court in Mumbai had on January 21, 2008, sentenced to life imprisonment to all the 11 accused in the case for murder and gang rape. Their conviction was later upheld by Bombay High Court. These convicts served more than 15 years in prison, after which one of them approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release.
Then, the apex court had directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of his sentence as per its 1992 policy on the basis of the date of his conviction. Thereafter, the government formed a committee and issued an order allowing premature release of all the convicts from jail.