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Justice Cries Out Amidst Silence

Each and every Indian would like to believe the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke about the national unity, empathy towards all citizens, respect for women, etc., while addressing the nation from the Red Fort in New Delhi on the 76th Independence Day (on August 15, 2022). Perhaps, the Prime Minister, himself, does not believe in those words. On that day, the Government of western Indian province of Gujarat decided to release all the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano Case of the 2002 riots. Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) of India had asked the Provincial Government to make a decision in this regard based on a petition filed by a criminal, and a Government Panel allowed their release under its Remission Policy.

PM Modi addressing India on 76th Independence Day in 2022

It may be noted that Bilkis Bano had survived the massacre, as her case was one of the most important cases related to the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Its probe was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while the trial was shifted from Gujarat to neighbouring province of Maharashtra at the insistence of the SC. Bilkis was 21-year-old, and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among 14 brutally killed by a mob on March 3, 2002 in Dahod during violence that broke out across Gujarat, after the Sabarmati Express was attacked in Godhra and 59 passengers were burnt to death. The description of the brutality of the crime still makes one shudder; however, the Provincial Government has allowed the 11 convicts to walk out of jail after spending just over 15 years behind bars.

The rapists

The question arises here: Is it possible for such a big decision to be taken without the Prime Minister’s knowledge (especially when his Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Gujarat)? If he had prior knowledge that the Provincial Government, run by his party, would dishonour Indian Democracy in such a manner (that too on Independence Day); then why did he speak of solidarity?

Bilkis Bano

The premature release of 11 rapists and murderers, including Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana, has sent a strong message to the people of India. The present rulers in India do not recognise the Right to Justice in most of the cases. Soon after the Government of Gujarat made an announcement in this regard, Bilkis said that the premature release of all the 11 convicts serving a life sentence in a case related to her and seven family members, shook her faith in justice and left her numb. The second message is that the Indian State shall never hold any Hindu citizen guilty of any communal crime. Guilt of those who have been released has been proven. Well, of course, one can argue that they had committed the crime against the minority community.

Bilkis’ statement

Unfortunately, the Indian citizens did not burst into anger despite such a contempt of justice. Those 11 people committed a crime not only against a woman or against a family, but against humanity. To gang-rape a pregnant woman, and to kill her child in front of her eyes in the most cruel manner cannot be justified by a civilised society.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

This is where the 76-year-old Independent India stands, and the Indians are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (or Freedom is a Priceless Gem), an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of Independence and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements in 2021-22.

Javed Akhtar’s tweet

India is really illuminated today, as its Head of the Government remains silent on the impunity of 11 criminals, who had launched a brutal attack on humanity more than two decades ago.

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