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11 men sentenced to life for Bilkis Bano's rape, family's murder released from jail

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11 men sentenced to life for Bilkis Banos rape, familys murder released from jail
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Ahmedabad: Images have surfaced of family members greeting them with sweets and performing charan-sparsh, or touching their feet for blessings, outside the Godhra jail the day after 11 inmates who had been given life sentences for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots walked free.

The 11 inmates were released on Monday after serving 15 years according to the Gujarat government's remission scheme. "I feel glad to be out as I will be able to meet my family members and begin a new life", said Radhes11 men sentenced to life for Bilkis Bano's rape, family's murder released from jailhyam Shah, the prisoner whose petition helped all 11 men get released.

Yakub Rasul, Bilkis Bano's spouse, said that the family was unwilling to comment on the release.

"We were not told about this... All we want to do is pray for peace of the souls of our near and dear ones who lost their lives in the riots. Every day we remember those who were killed in the incident, including our daughter," he said.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano—then 21 years old and five months pregnant—was raped and her toddler daughter along with six other family members was slain. In an effort to avoid the violence that broke out after the burning of a Sabarmati Express coach that claimed the lives of 59 "kar sevaks" only a few days earlier, they were hiding in fields close to Ahmedabad.

Human rights attorney Shamshad Pathan stated on Monday night that many prisoners who have been convicted of less terrible offences are still behind bars with no chance of release.

A Mumbai special court sentenced these 11 individuals in 2008, and the verdict was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The Gujarat government was instructed to investigate the matter when one of them filed a case with the Supreme Court, which noted that Gujarat was the location of the crime. The government established a committee, which reached a unanimous decision in favour of remission.

According to rights attorney Pathan, when a government makes such a decision, "the hope of the victim in the system diminishes."

The case in 2002 caused an uproar and the Supreme Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct an investigation. 2004 saw the arrest of the accused. The trial originally started in Ahmedabad but was moved to Mumbai because Bilkis Bano said that witnesses would be harmed.

On January 21, 2008, the special CBI court in Mumbai found 11 men guilty of planning to rape a pregnant woman, murder, and unlawful assembly under the Indian Penal Code, according to NDTV.

One defendant passed away during the trial, while the other seven were exonerated for lack of evidence.

The High Court overturned the acquittal of those seven people as well in its 2018 ruling confirming the conviction of the defendants.

In addition, the Gujarat government was mandated by the Supreme Court in 2019 to provide Bilkis Bano with a house, a job, and compensation of 50 lakh.

The 11 convicts granted premature release include Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana, besides Radheshyam Shah.


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TAGS:Bilkis bano Gujarat riots 
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