SC urged by 6,000 eminent citizens to revoke early release of Bilkis Bano case convicts

“The remission of sentences for the 11 [men] will have a chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, ‘have faith’,” they said in a statement

Bilkis Bano (File photo)
Bilkis Bano (File photo)

NH Web Desk

Around 6,000 signatories comprising of activists, writers, historians, filmmakers, journalists and former bureaucrats on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to revoke the early release of 11 rapists in the Bilkis Bano case.

“On the morning of August 15, 2022, in his Independence Day address to the nation, the Prime Minister of India spoke of women’s rights, dignity and ‘Nari Shakti’. That very afternoon, Bilkis Bano, a woman who embodied that ‘Nari Shakti’ in her long and daunting struggle for justice, learnt that the perpetrators who killed her family, murdered her three-year-old daughter, gang-raped and left her to die, had walked free,” the signatories said in a joint statement.

“The remission of sentences for the 11 [men] convicted of gang-rape and mass murder will have a chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, ‘have faith’,” they added.

“Most importantly, in a case investigated and prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, no remission can be granted by a state without concurrence by the Centre. That such a remission was even considered, and then permitted, reveals the hollowness of the public posturing about Nari Shakti, Beti Bachao, women’s rights and justice for victims…Hence, the statement urged the Supreme Court to undo this grave miscarriage of justice,” they said.

The 11 men had been sentenced to life in 2008 for gang-raping 21-year-old Bilkis Bano, who was also five months pregnant, and murdering 14 people, including Bano’s three-year-old daughter, during the 2002 Gujarat communal riots.

The groups, organisations and networks who were co-signatories of the statement included Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Gamana Mahila Samuha, Bebaak Collective, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Pragatisheel Mahila Manch, Parcham Collective, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Amoomat Society, WomComMatters, Centre for Struggling Women, Sahiyar, Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Women & Transgender Joint Action Committee, Bailancho Saad, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, All India Lawyers Association for Justice, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organization, All India Students Association, Mission Justice; Bahutva Karnataka, Swaraj Abhiyan, Democracy Collective, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Delhi Solidarity Group, Collective, Peoples’ Watch, United Christian Forum, Jharkhand Jan Adhikar Mahasabha, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled, CityMakers Mission International, Association of Protection of Democratic Rights, Progressive Writers Association, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Delhi Science Forum, National Federation of Indian Women, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Movement For Secular Democracy, Hindus for Human Rights and South Asia Forum for Human Rights.

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