'I'm Still Numb,' says Bilkis Bano on release of 11 convicts

Bilkis Bano reacted to the release of the 11 convicts two days ago by releasing a statement hinting at a sense of deep hurt and betrayal.

Published: 18th August 2022 02:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2022 02:26 AM   |  A+A-

Bilkis Bano with her family. (File| EPS)

By Online Desk

The survivor of one of the most horrific rape cases during the 2002 Gujarat riots, Bilkis Bano, has said the release of the 11 rapists has "shaken" her faith in justice.

Her first statement since the release of the convicts two days ago hinted at a sense of deep hurt and betrayal.

"How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma... My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts," said Bilkis in the statement.

The 11 convicts on Monday walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. Her statement hinted at the shock of the government's move without her consultation.

"No one enquired about my safety and well-being, before taking such a big and unjust decision," she said.

"Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace. Please ensure that my family and I are kept safe," the statement read.

Bilkis Bano was 21 when she witnessed the murder of seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. Seven other relatives, who she says were also killed, were declared "missing".

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family.

Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The rapists walked free on Monday and were greeted with sweets, hugs and garlands by groups linked to the ruling BJP.

Opposition parties targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the release of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case with Rahul Gandhi saying the entire country is seeing the difference between the PM's words and deeds.

The Congress also asked whether it was possible for the Gujarat government to approve early release of the convicts without the knowledge and approval of Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

(With inputs from PTI)

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