New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court told the Gujarat government to rehabilitate and pay her Rs 50 lakh, Bilkis Yakub Rasool Bano, gang-raped in the 2002 Gujarat riots, on Wednesday said the state had been convicted on moral and constitutional principles.
Addressing a press conference here, Bilkis Bano said: "I kept my faith in the constitution and in my rights as a citizen and the Supreme Court has stood with me. For that I am truly grateful to the judges."
Commenting on her 17-year struggle for justice, she said: "It has been a journey of a million steps, first seeking criminal conviction of those who destroyed my life, my child, my entire family.
"But today the State has been convicted in a court of moral and constitutional principles," she said.
Bilkis Bano also said that the Supreme Court's order to her was not about monetary compensation.
"It is about the signal it has sent to the State and to each citizen of this country. We have rights that no State can be allowed to violate," she said.
Her remarks came a day after the Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to rehabilitate and pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped at the age of 21 in the post-Godhra riots.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna expressed concern about the victim after learning that she had been living a nomadic life and on charity.
The court directed the Gujarat government to give her a government job and provide her accommodation at a place of her choice.
Bilkis Bano was pregnant when she was raped by a mob, which also killed seven members of her family at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002. The court also observed that her infant daughter was "smashed" against the wall in their house before her.
Chief Justice Gogoi pointed out that the rehabilitation of the victim was a priority, after her lawyer contended before the court she had lost everything in the tragedy.
To a question how she shall utilise the money, Bilkis Bano said: "I want to finally give my daughter a stable life. Perhaps see my eldest daughter grow up as a lawyer who can defend others.
"I also want to use part of the money to help other women survivors of hate and communal violence who seek justice. I want to help educate their children, in whose lives the spirit of my daughter Saleha will live on," she said.