Shell-shocked Bilkis Bano falls silent, husband numb as Gujarat frees 11 convicted of her rape

Eleven men convicted for her gangrape and the murder of her family members, were welcomed with garlands and laddoos after the Gujarat panel announced the remission of the sentence awarded to them.

Shell-shocked Bilkis Bano falls silent, husband numb as Gujarat frees 11 convicted of her rape
Bilkis Bano (Express File photo: Anil Sharma/File)

2002, Gujarat: Bilkis Bano was 21 and five months pregnant when she was gangraped and her three-year-old daughter murdered in front of her eyes in Dahod district’s Limkheda area on March 3 in the aftermath of the Godhra carnage. Along with her toddler, Bilkis saw gangrape and murders of 14 members of her family in the horrifying turn of events two decades ago.

Cut to 2022 and 11 men, convicted for her gangrape and the murder of her family members, were welcomed with garlands and laddoos after the Gujarat panel announced the remission of the sentence awarded to them.

The development, that came on a day India was celebrating 75 years of Independence, has left the family in a state of shock. According to a report by The Indian Express, Bilkis broke down the moment she heard the news. Now, she is numb and refuses to talk.

Also Read: Bilkis Bano case: Congress reminds PM Modi of ‘Raj Dharma’ as 11 convicts walk free

“Leave me alone,” Bano was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. Her husband Yakoob Rasool says that the family is distraught as the fight for justice has come to an abrupt end. “We don’t know what that word is – remission,” Rasool says. On his wife’s present state of mind, Rasool says that Bilkis is extremely melancholic and is not in a condition to talk to anyone.

Expressing his anguish over the development, Rasool says that the family never expected that the rapists would walk free like they did. Rasool says that now the family should be left alone to think about the future of their five children.

Jail Advisory Committee Chairman Sujal Mayatra, who is also Panchamhal DM, told The Indian Express that the decision to remit the sentence of 11 convicts was a unanimous one. The IE report also said some of the remission applications also cited medical reasons.

Also Read: Bilkis Bano case: Eleven convicts serving life term for Gujarat riots gangrape, murder set free in Godhra

In 2008, 11 accused of the heinous crimes were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Mumbai special court. Later, this verdict was also upheld by the Bombay High Court.

Three years ago, in 2019, the Supreme Court had ordered the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh to Bilkis Bano and her family as compensation. The family says that the money has been invested as fixed deposits.

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