Bilkis Bano gang-rape: All 11 life imprisonment convicts walk out of Godhra jailtext_fields
Godhra: All 11 life imprisonment convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail under the Gujarat government's remission policy, news agency PTI reported.
"A committee formed a few months back took a unanimous decision in favor of remission of all the 11 convicts in the case. The recommendation was sent to the state government, and yesterday we received the orders for their release," said Panchmahals collector Sujal Mayatra.
The 11 convicts who were granted premature release are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the eleven accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
These convicts had served more than 15 years in jail after which one of them approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release.
The apex court had directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of his sentence following which the government formed a committee, said Panchmahals Collector Sujal Mayatra, who headed the panel.
After the violence erupted following the burning of a Sabarmati Express coach that killed 59 'karsevaks 'on February 27, 2002, Bilkis Bano, who was five-month pregnant at that time, fled her village with her toddler daughter and 15 others.
On March 3, they took shelter in a field when a mob of 20-30 people armed with sickles, swords and sticks attacked them and Bilkis Bano was gang raped, while seven members of her family were killed. Six other members managed to run away.
Given the outrage over the incident, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe.
The accused in the case were arrested in 2004.
The trial began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the evidence collected by the CBI tampered with, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
The special CBI court on January 21, 2008, sentenced the eleven accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family.
They were convicted on charges of conspiring to rape a pregnant woman, murder, and unlawful assembly under the Indian Penal Code.
The special court acquitted seven other accused for want of evidence. One of the accused had died during the trial.