Sharad Pawar terms release of convicts in Bilkis Bano case shameful

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Convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case were garlanded at the VHP office in Gujarat.

Thane, August 30 (KMS): Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has termed as shameful the release of the 11 persons convicted for life imprisonment in the gang-rape of Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, and murder of family members during the anti-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.

The convicts were recently released under the Gujarat government’s remission policy.

Speaking to reporters in Thane city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, Shard Pawar said the release of the convicts is contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address wherein he had appealed to people to respect women.

“Atrocities on women are on the rise in the country. When the courts have awarded them imprisonment till death such a decision by the Gujarat government to release the convicts in the Bilkis case was a shameful one,” he said.

Pawar also maintained that activist Teesta Setalvad’s arrest was wrong. “What the Gujarat government is doing in the Teesta Setalvad case is totally wrong,” he said.

Teesta Setalvad was arrested on June 25, this year, a day after the Indian Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by her along with Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri was murdered during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The petition sought to probe the role of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat’s Chief Minister.

It is to mention here that the Indian Supreme Court had directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of the sentence of one of the convicts.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by Hindutva mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat. Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at that time, was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed.

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