To register their protest over the “unfair remission” granted to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, hundreds of citizens, women’s organisation members and students gathered in a procession at Ashram Road, Saturday morning. The demonstration sent out a strong message to the state and Central government: “Revoke the Remission.”
The Bilkis Bano case dates back to 2002 and is wrought in the post-Godhra communal riots that flared up in Gujarat. Bano, then 21 and five-months pregnant, was gangraped by the 11. They also stand guilty of having murdered seven of her kin, including “smashing the head” of her three-year-old daughter. The CBI, in its probe, found all 11 guilty of gangrape and mass murder in the most brutal manner.
Among the campaigner for justice were All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS), Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group (AWAG) and Gujarat Mahila Manch.
“How can the PM talk about nari shakti and the dignity of women in the morning and be complicit in the release that same evening?” questioned the protestors.
While the grotesque rape and murder shook the foundations of humanity, a large section of the country is recoiling under the shock of the fact that the offenders have been released. As Bano herself questioned, the demonstrators, today asked: “How can justice just end like this?”
“The fight for justice was not easy. Bano and her husband were intimidated by the system at several points. The case was transferred out of Gujarat and to Maharashtra. Then, the CBI took over. All along, the victim has lived in fear but lived with the hope of justice being done. How can any Indian call the remission an act of justice?” voiced the women activists at the rally.
Significantly, the turnout saw women and men, cutting across social strata and religion. The only commonality was their outrage at the government for letting down a “Gujarat Ki Beti.”