Talk Of Respect For Women, But Support For Rapists: Rahul Slams PMOct 18, 2022 | Pratirodh Bureau
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, alleging that while there was talk of respect for women from the Red Fort, in reality there was “support” for rapists.
His reaction came after the Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it obtained “suitable orders” from the Centre for granting remission to the convicts in the case and that the petitioners challenging the remission are nothing but an “interloper” and a “busybody”.
“Talk of respect for women from the ramparts of the Red Fort but in reality support for ‘rapists’,” Rahul said in a tweet in Hindi. “The difference between the Prime Minister’s promises and intentions is clear, PM has only betrayed women,” he said.
The Gujarat government had told the Supreme Court that since the investigation in the case was carried out by the CBI, it had obtained “suitable orders” for grant of remission to the convicts from the Centre.
The state government filed its reply on a PIL filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, Revati Laul, an independent journalist, and Roop Rekha Verma, who is a former vice chancellor of the Lucknow University.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident in 2002. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.
The investigation in the case was handed over to the CBI and the trial was transferred to a Maharashtra court by the Supreme Court. A special CBI court in Mumbai had, on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 men to life imprisonment on charges of gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven members of her family.
Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, in shocking comments on the issue, Prahlad Joshi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, told NDTV, “I don’t find anything wrong in it (the release) as it is a process of law.” He said there is a provision in the law for the release of convicts who have spent “quite some time” in jail.
All 11 men convicted in the Bilkis Bano case walked out from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. Those granted premature release are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hear on November 29 the pleas filed by senior CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali and two other women petitioners challenging the remission of the sentence and release of the convicts.
In a related development, last month, Gujarat police had detained social activist Sandeep Pandey and three others ahead of a foot march planned to express solidarity with Bilkis Bano. Ramon Magsaysay award recipient Pandey and other activists were scheduled to participate in the foot march, titled ‘Apologising to Bilkis Bano’, planned to be taken out from her native village Randhikpur in Dahod district on September 26 under the banner of ‘Hindu-Muslim Ekta Samiti’.
The march was to conclude in Ahmedabad on October 4. The Hindu-Muslim Ekta Samiti, in a statement, had condemned the police action and said that the foot march was organised to apologise to Bilkis Bano, after the Gujarat government released 11 convicts in her case under its remission policy on August 15.