Bilkis Bano case: Union minister Pralhad Joshi defends rapists' release
Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday defended the early release of convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, saying it was done as per the rule of law. Joshi said the release was based on the provision for those who have spent "quite some time" in prison. He was campaigning for the upcoming Gujarat elections.
Why does this story matter?
- Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when riots erupted in Gujarat following the burning of the Sabarmati Express train.
- On March 3, 2002, Bano and her family were attacked by a mob that raped her while she was pregnant and slaughtered her family members in a village near Ahmedabad.
- Over 1,000 people were reportedly killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Convicts released because of good behavior: Joshi
Pralhad Joshi said the rape convicts were released on basis of their "good" behavior, adding that he didn't find anything wrong in it as everything was in accordance with the law. Separately, replying to the Supreme Court's notice on petitions challenging their release, the Gujarat government Monday said the men completed 14 years in jail, and the Centre also approved their release in August.
I don't find anything wrong in it: Joshi
Centre approved release request within 2 weeks
To note, the Centre and the Gujarat government had reportedly fast-tracked the early release of the 11 convicts in the case. Moreover, the Gujarat government's request to release the convicts was approved by the Union Home Ministry within two weeks. The request was made on June 28 and was given a go-ahead on July 11, following which the convicts were released on August 15.
Rapists 'Brahmin' by caste, have good 'sanskaar': BJP's Godhra MLA
Soon after the rape convicts' release on August 15, BJP's MLA from Godhra, CK Raulji, had defended the move and termed the rapists as "Brahmins" with "good sanskaar." Despite them being convicted of raping a pregnant woman, murder, and unlawful assembly—and the decision being upheld by the Bombay HC—Raulji had claimed that they might have been cornered and punished due to someone's ill intentions.
Welcomed with garlands, sweets
The rapists were welcomed with garlands and sweets upon their release. The act drew flak with the Opposition and civil society trying to corner the BJP, but its leaders have defended the move time and again. Upon their release, Bano said that the "trauma of the past 20 years" washed over her again. "How can justice for a woman end like this?" she asked.
Convicts were known to Bano
Bano had known the perpetrators for years as they were neighbors. She addressed the perpetrators as "uncle and brothers" who gang-raped her. She was several months pregnant when the incident took place. At the time, in order to lodge a complaint at a police station, she had to borrow clothes from a tribal woman. The constable had truncated her complaint and suffered punishment later.