July 17, 2024
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Rahul Gandhi to PM Modi on Bilkis Bano Convicts’ Release: “Gap In Your Words And Deeds”

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress, said to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today that “the whole country is seeing the difference between your words and deeds” in reference to the release of 11 life-sentenced inmates who were convicted of raping Bilkis Bano and killing her family members during the Gujarat riots in 2002.

During “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted in Hindi, “those who raped a 5-month pregnant mother and killed her 3-year-old daughter were released.”

“What is the message going out to the women of the country, from those speaking of women empowerment,” he asked, referring to PM Modi’s Independence Day speech. PM Modi, in the speech from Red Fort, had spoken of “naari shakti” and said we must “not do anything that lowers the dignity of women”.

The same argument has been used by other Congress MPs and spokespersons as well as other Opposition parties to criticise the PM.

The Gujarati government has defended its decision to free the 11 men, claiming that it did so in accordance with a Supreme Court-mandated 1992 policy because that was in place at the time of the 2008 conviction.

Inmates convicted of such horrible crimes should not be released, according to a later policy (2014) of the state and a more recent policy by the Centre – both governments are controlled by the BJP. Gujarat Home Secretary Raj Kumar has stated, citing a technicality, “but the 1992 policy, which applied here, did not have such an exclusion.”

The BJP hasn’t responded to claims that it treats rapists—who in this instance are also murderers—in a hypocritical manner.

On March 3, 2002, in the Dahod district, Bilkis Bano, then age 21, was raped and seven of her family members were killed. Following the fire of a train coach just days earlier, which claimed the lives of 59 “kar sevaks,” they were hiding in fields to avoid the carnage.

At the time, Gujarat’s chief minister was Narendra Modi.

The 11 suspects were given life sentences by a special court in Mumbai in 2008. Later, the Bombay High Court upheld it.

The Gujarat government was even ordered by the Supreme Court in 2019 to grant Bilkis Bano 50 lakh as compensation in addition to a home and a job. Three years on, the convicts have walked out, greeted with sweets outside the Godhra jail.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright


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