Where rapists, murderers dare to tread

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11 men sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering 7 Muslims and gang-raping a pregnant Bilkis Bano after being released.

Instead of discussing pedantic details of the remission policy, there is an immediate need to bring Bilkis Bano out of the mental trauma after the culprits walked free….

By Quamar Ashraf

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Rights activists, commentators, opposition parties all are dismayed over the release of all the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape and murder case. The culprits, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for the gang-raping Bano and murdering seven members of her family during the heat of 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, were allowed to walk freely under the state government’s remission policy.

While legal experts may discuss pedantic details of the remission policies and the legalities involved, the situation calls for an immediate ‘healing touch’ move for the survivors, mainly to the woman, who suffered the brutalities in the face of the recent development – which could be dubbed as masterstroke.

Here is the woman who underwent an intolerable trauma: her five-year-old daughter was snatched from her, banged the small girl against the rock to death, gang raped – to count a few – while fleeing her home for protection from the right wing zealots during the heat of anti-Muslim pogrom. And now the culprits walked free. What is even more painful to her is the ‘heroic’ welcome being given to her tormentors by a set of ugly creature. The felicitation event was shamelessly filmed with some people, including women, can be seen conducting tilak ceremony, garlanding the rapists and the murderers, offering them sweets, and taking sadistic pleasure for the beastly acts.

The idea to shot video was ostensibly to communicate the open-secret message to their fellow constituents, to the Muslims, to the world. That, it is New India. Here everything is fair if it hurts Muslims. And this is not new. The Muslims have normalized it. If not a society, a significant chunk of people seemingly approves everything against Muslims. It is not important to discuss their belonging? It is simply immaterial. What if they belonged to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or for that matter to any other Hindu right wing group? They are in our society; their tentacles are spreading unchecked.

Television news studios are abuzz with all nonsensical discussion on the remission policy with the panelists and anchors arguing their viewpoints as per their political affiliations, their social background. The opposition parties contented themselves by issuing customary statements, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indeed, the sufferings of the victims are secondary to them. Meanwhile, Bilkis Bano is shocked and unwilling to speak to anyone. Does she have anything to speak to, now?

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