Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Monday, August 29 slammed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over release of 11 people convicted for rape and murder in Bilkis Bano case and expressed his discontent over the rising number of crimes against women in India.
Speaking to reporters in Thane, Pawar asserted, “Everyone knows the trauma that Bilkis Bano went through (during the 2002 Gujarat riots) … she was raped, several of her relatives were killed and her child was murdered. The lower court, the high court and the Supreme Court, all had decreed the sternest punishment to be meted out to the perpetrators, which was imprisonment for life. Yet, the BJP government in Gujarat got these criminals released, not only that, they were felicitated upon their release as well.”
Following the post-Godhra riots in the year 2002, Bano, who was five-months pregnant, when the rioters attacked her family, was allegedly gang-raped. A special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced 11 out of 19 accused to life-imprisonment on January 21, 2008.
On August 15, 2022, the Gujarat government had freed all of the 11 convicts namely, Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana, who were involved in the case.
Further Pawar hit out at BJP government of failing to achieve its said promises that were made during 2014 Lok Sabha election and accused the party of running a ‘campaign’ to smother non-BJP governments in states across India, trying to split a section of MLAs among ruling parties by luring them with powerful positions.
“For instance in Karnataka, which never previously had a BJP government, certain people were found who were pliable and the non-BJP government was overthrown. Likewise in Maharashtra, a section of Shiv Sena leaders (Eknath Shinde and rebel Sena MLAs) were targeted and a government was formed with them. The same thing happened with Kamal Nath’s government in Madhya Pradesh.”
A week back, the NCP’s ally in the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi)- the Udhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena- had also lashed out at PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for their tight-lipped response over the release of the convicts in Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.
“We cry out loud when similar atrocities take place in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh. Then where has our sensitivity gone in the case of Bilkis Bano?” as stated by Shiv Sena in ‘Saamana’, a party-driven editorial.
Meanwhile, criticising the BJP further, Pawar expressed, “The Centre had claimed every Indian will have a toilet by 2022. As per its own figures, it has failed to provide toilets in 56 per cent of the homes in Bihar, 43 per cent homes in Jharkhand and 40 per cent of the houses in Orissa. Overall, there is a 30 per cent deficiency in providing toilets in homes across the country. In 2018, the Centre had promised that all Gram Panchayats would have an Internet connection. Nothing of the kind has happened.”
Sharadchandra Govindrao Pawar, commonly known as Sharad Pawar has served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on three occasions and he is one of India’s powerful regional politicians.