‘I Bow My Head in Shame, Hang Bilkis Convicts’ — BJP’s ex-CM Shanta Kumar Slams Gujarat Govt

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The BJP veteran and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister also said hat he would reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “undo” the remission granted to these convicts

NEW DELHI — Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintains its silence on the Bilkis Bano case, party veteran and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar has slammed the Gujarat government for allowing the release of the rape and murder convicts, reports The Print.

“I bow my head in shame after hearing about the release of the convicts. This was one of the most barbaric cases in history. How can any government allow such remission to the convicts?  The Gujarat government should roll back its decision and hang those people convicted in case,” the octogenarian leader, also a former Union minister in the Vajpayee government, The Print quoted Shanta Kumar as saying.

Kumar also said that he would reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “undo” the remission granted to these convicts.

On Independence Day, all 11 convicts in the high-profile case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Bhupendra Patel-led BJP government in Gujarat allowed their release under its remission policy.

These convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of several members of her family during the Gujarat communal riots. The remission comes in a year when the state will elect a new assembly.

It is “shameful” that the release happened when the country was observing the 75th anniversary of Independence, Kumar said.

“When the special court pronounced its judgement by convicting them for their crime, and the high court justified their conviction for rape and murder, it means it has been proved that they committed heinous crimes,” he asserted.

“I am surprised that despite such heinous crimes, they were not hanged. Now, I am more surprised after knowing that the Gujarat government has freed them by using a special provision. It’s shameful that despite it being the 75th year of Independence, crime against women and girls is rising.”

A huge controversy erupted after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) greeted the convicts with garlands at its office on 17 August. The opposition Congress attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making “hollow claims” about the empowerment of women in his Independence Day speech.  The BJP has, however, maintained its silence.

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