Bilkis Bano case: US-based rights body writes to President Murmu, seeks reversal of remission order 

By Muslim Mirror Network

A coalition of US-based human rights groups has strongly condemned the premature release of convicts in Bilkis Bano case and requested President Draupadi Murmu’s intervention to ensure safety to the Gujarat 2002 riot victims following remission granted to their tormentors by the state government.

The International Society for Peace and Justice (ISPJ) urged the President to reach out to the Supreme Court and Gujarat government to reverse the remission decision, drawing her attention towards the safety of not only the Bilkis Bano family members but for the general public.  The ISJP letter to the President reads: “This decision is a slap in the face to every survivor of rape in India who has sought justice, as well as those who survived the Gujarat pogrom and are still seeking justice.”

“We are writing to express our outrage about the release of the 11 men involved in gang-raping a young Muslim woman and murdering seven of her relatives, including the woman’s 3-year-old daughter,” reads the letter.

All the 11 men convicted in one of the most horrific crimes during the 2002 Gujarat riots walked free on India’s 75th year of Independence even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was batting for women empowerment from the ramparts of the Red Fort in his speech. Disturbingly, they were also welcomed with sweets and garlands by the ultra-right wing group Visha Hindu Parishad (VHP). Shamelessly, they also shot the video of the felicitation event, held in VHP offices in Gujarat, where men and women were purportedly seen applying tilak on the forehead of the culprits. The 11 men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2008 by the Maharashtra High Court.

The ISJP letter mentioned ‘caste sanctity’ attached to the rapists while shamelessly defending their remission decision. Notably, a top BJP official in Gujarat described the men as “Brahmins” and “men of good sanskar.”

Bilkis Bano who was 21 and pregnant at the time of the riots, fled from her village with her relatives as Hindu mobs attacked Muslims. The rioters did not even leave her three-year-old daughter. They snatched the baby from Bilkis arms and smashed her head on the rock to death. Thousands of people, mostly Muslims, died over three days of violence.

The letter further states: People convicted of major crimes, such as rape and murder, typically cannot be released early under current national and Gujarat law, but the state panel recommended these 11 men be released, regardless, as panel members cited an outdated state law on remissions.”

“The early release of men convicted of murder and rape – the latter being classified as a war crime and a crime against humanity by the United Nations – makes the words in Prime Minisiter Modi’s Independence Day speech at the Red Fort, about uplifting Indian women over the next 25 years, ring hollow,” states the letter.

The letter also pointed out several culprits walking free. It says, “Many other people accused of committing atrocities during the Gujarat pogrom have walked free, never facing justice or accountability. The culpability for those riots goes all the way up to Modi, but he has never faced accountability, either.”

The ISJP also underlined that if Modi wants his country to join the comity of developed nations, then he must put initiatives in place that will give women of all faiths equal status in society.” “India cannot be part of the civilized world if its leaders set criminals free and then celebrate them, ” said the rights body.

It further pointed out that the world will isolate the leaders of the BJP and RSS involved in aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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