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IIM Bangalore Faculty & Staff Write to Chief Justice of India in Solidarity With Bilkis Bano

The statement, signed by 54 people, appeals to the court to respond urgently to Bano's right "to live without fear and in peace."
IIM Banglore

Representational use only.Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

IIM Bangalore (IIMB) faculty and staff, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), said that they were stunned by the Gujarat government's decision to provide remission to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. The statement, signed by 54 people, appeals to the court to respond urgently to Bano's right "to live without fear and in peace."

Eleven convicts serving life imprisonment in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case from the 2002 Gujarat riots were set free from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15, after the Gujarat government permitted their release under its remission policy.

The Bilkin Bano gangrape case occurred in 2002 when on March 3, 19-year-old Bilkis Bano and her family were trying to escape a mob on a truck in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the Gujarat Riots. Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant then, was gangraped after an armed mob attacked the truck. The mob killed 14 members of her family, including her 2-year-old daughter, mother, and cousin.

When Bilkis Bano approached the local police station to file a case, she was threatened with dire consequences. She later petitioned the Supreme Court, which directed a CBI probe into the matter. The Supreme Court moved the case from Gujarat to Maharashtra after Bilkis Bano and her family complained of receiving death threats.

In January 2008, a Mumbai court sentenced 11 out of 19 accused to life imprisonment for gangrape and murder. The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction in May 2017. Bilkis Bano was awarded compensation of Rs 50 lakh by the Supreme Court in 2019.

The statement by IIMB faculty and staff held that the crimes committed by the 11 men granted remission were no ordinary crimes.

"They were accused and convicted of gang rape and murders of the most depraved and inhumane kind. The Supreme Court itself upheld their conviction in 2008."

The remission, the statement says, "is not only a denial of justice but also presents a real and immediate danger to Bilkis Bano and her family." It deplored the sympathetic treatment the convicted men received as "shocking."

"What kind of a nation are we turning into if Bilkis Bano is left to defend herself while her violators are given a hero's welcome?"

Furthermore, it asks the legal system and courts to aid citizens in securing justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity so that "the horrors that Bilkis Bano underwent in 2002 should not be experienced by any woman anywhere."

"This remission is bound to embolden perpetrators of such heinous crimes while simultaneously extinguishing the hope of millions of Indians who look up to the courts to deliver justice," the statement read.

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