Congress campaigns against Gujarat govt's decision to release Bilkis Bano case convicts on remission

A signature campaign is being carried out in Uttar Pradesh while rallies and protests are on in Gujarat calling for reversal of decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case

Indian National Congress flag
Indian National Congress flag
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NH Political Bureau

The Congress has launched a campaign against the early release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, following approval of their applications for remission, in bellwether states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

A massive signature campaign is being carried out in Uttar Pradesh by the minority department of the state unit of the Congress under the directions of Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary in charge of the state, a UP Congress leader said.

Several Congress activists and leaders including Shahnawaz Alam, head of the minority department, have held press conferences in various cities across the state after submission of a memorandum addressed to the Chief Justice of India seeking a repeal of the remission granted to the convicts by the Gujarat government.

“In the first phase of the protest, we submitted a memorandum to the CJI followed by press conferences held in various cities. We then launched a signature campaign against the remission. We will hold candle marches in the last phase of the campaign,” Alam said.

“We will keep raising the issue till Bilkis Bano gets justice. It is extremely important for the prestige of the highest court of the land for the remission to be repealed so that the convicts are put back in jail,” said Alam, noting that the apex court had also admitted a PIL in this connection on Tuesday.

The Congress is also highlighting the issue in Gujarat, slated to go for Assembly polls later this year.

Addressing a huge gathering, Imran Pratapgarhi, Rajya Sabha MP and head of the AICC minority department, who is touring the state as part of the Bharat Jodo Sadbhawana Yatra, said the ‘Beti bachao, beti padhao’ slogan propagated by PM Narendra Modi was fake.

“India’s daughter Bilkis is seeking justice. If you (PM Modi) claim to have given justice to Muslim women by enacting laws such as that against Triple Talaq, one more Muslim daughter is seeking justice. She is asking you to make a stringent law against rape and put those convicts behind the bars again,” he said.

Meanwhile, three Gujarat Congress MLAs – Gyasuddin Shaikh, Imran Khedawala and Wankaner Javed Pirzada – have written a joint letter to President Droupadi Murmu urging her to ensure reversal of the decision to release the 11 convicts. They termed the Gujarat govt’s order to release them on remission as “extremely shocking” and said it had “tainted the Independence Day”.

The Congress MLAs also sat on a dharna but were detained by the police.Congress watchers said the party’s campaign seeking justice for Bilkis Bano was launched after Rahul Gandhi took on PM Narendra Modi following the release of the convicts from Godha sub-jail on August 15, when the nation celebrated the 75th Independence Day.

He had posted a tweet referring to old rape and murder cases in which BJP leaders had been indicted such as the Unnao case and Kathua case, saying, “Aren’t you ashamed of such politics Pradhanmantri ji?”


Congress watchers said the party’s campaign seeking justice for Bilkis Bano was launched after Rahul Gandhi took on PM Narendra Modi following the release of the convicts from Godhra sub-jail on August 15, when the nation celebrated the 75th Independence Day.

He had posted a tweet referring to old rape and murder cases in which BJP leaders had been indicted such as the Unnao case and Kathua case, saying, “Aren’t you ashamed of such politics Pradhanmantri ji?”

“Those who raped a five-month pregnant woman and killed her three-year-old daughter were released during ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’,” he said in another tweet.

“What message is being given to the women of the country by those who peddle lies about Nari Shakti, Prime Minister ji? The entire country is seeing the difference between your words and deeds,” he had also tweeted.

Though the Congress, as per observers, had strategically came out in support of Bilkis Bano in some states, it has refrained from organizing events on the issue in other states. Party leaders, however, have been asked to step up attacks on the BJP over the issue personally.

Bilkis Bano was gangraped by rioters during the communal violence which gripped Gujarat in 2002 followed the Godhra train-burning incident. She was 21 years old at the time and five months pregnant. Seven members of her family were also killed.

The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the trial was shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra at the instance of the Supreme Court.

On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment on charges of gangrape and murder. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

They have all, however, set free 14 years after a panel set up by the Gujarat government approved their application for remission of the sentence.

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Published: 23 Aug 2022, 7:46 PM