The Congress is going all guns blazing over the “questionable” release of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. The 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.
At a press conference earlier today at Rajiv Bhawan, the Congress headquarters in Ahmedabad, spokesperson Pawan Khera lashed out at the BJP and the Central government for “being complicit in the release.”
“The matter was investigated by Central agencies. In such a case, CrPC 435 stipulates that relief can be granted only after the state gets permission from the Union government. It is mandatory for release. The Prime Minister must break his silence on the matter,” he stated. Referring to Janmashtami, Khera, chairman of the Congress’ media and publicity committee, alluded to Mahabharat to drive home the point.
“When Draupadi was put through the vastra haran, the throne fell silent and she remembered Dwarkadhish. Today, sweets are being fed to the culprits. Is this what Modiji calls Amrit Mahotsav? The Congress demands that the Prime Minister tell the country if he actually believes in his Red Fort speech about nari shakti,” added Khera.
Adding to the same refrain, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Amee Yagnik called the Gujarat government “a liar.” “The 1992 amnesty policy that the government was referring to was withdrawn in 2013. It is no open secret. Details are available on the website. Why is the Women’s Commission silent?” questioned Yagnik, herself a senior advocate at the Supreme Court. She also grilled BJP MLAs C.K Raolji’s and Sumanben Chauhan’s presence on the advisory committee which okayed the remission.
Significantly, Thursday saw Raolji stick to the decision saying the 11 were released because they were all “sanskaari.” (people with virtues and piety).
“We want to know on what basis where they released? Is this what India will remember about the Amrit Mahotsav? Who’s sanskaar allows gangrape and murder?” she cross-examined the release. Also present on the occasion was Gujarat Congress working president Jignesh Mevani. “There has not been any incident in the history of India where a pregnant woman has been gangraped by 11 men and also been witness to seven of her family being brutally murdered. The BJP government has not only wronged her but the entire notion of justice,” boomed the young Dalit MLA and human rights activist.
He noted that ruling party’s sanskar might permit their release but it “certainly is not Gujarat’s sanskar. Those who consider the convicts as sanskaari should hang their head in shame,” he voiced the Congress’ stand.