Karnataka: Bengaluru Students, Activists Raise Voice for Bilkis Bano
Bengaluru: Over a hundred students and activists gathered at Freedom Park in the city on Monday to protest against the release of 11 convicted rapists of Bilkis Bano by the Gujarat government. Many protesters demanded that the life sentences of the 11 convicts should carry on until death.
Women took the lead in the protest, singing revolutionary songs and raising slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The protest was called by All India Students' Association, Karnataka Mahila Dourjanya Virodhi Okkoota, Students' Islamic Organisation of India, Swaraj Abhiyan Karnataka, People's Union of Civil Liberties, among others.
Among the protesters was S Balan, Special Public Prosecutor in the ongoing Gauri Lankesh trial. Speaking with NewsClick, he said: “Beti Bachao (a Central scheme) is only for daughters of upper castes; rapes and atrocities are for daughters of dalits, tribals, Muslims and workers."
Speaking about remission of the sentence, Balan said: “A life sentence means that they (the convicts) should be in jail till death. Courts have also upheld this in the past. A man called Swami Shraddhananda killed his wife in Bengaluru by burying her alive. In 2008, the Supreme Court passed an order that he should die in jail. Here, 20 people raped a pregnant woman and then killed her three-year-old daughter. This is an atrocious case, more heinous than others in the past.”
Madhu Bhushan, an activist with Naaveddu Nilladiddare (If We Don’t Rise), said the protest was mainly organised by students who were enraged by the premature release of the convicts. “For us in the women’s movement, this is an absolute letdown. The grounds on which they were released are shocking -- that they belong to a certain (upper caste) community, so they are ‘cultured’? What is this mindset? And upon release from jail, they were felicitated. This is mockery."
On August 20, members of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) also held a protest in Bengaluru against the release of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. They demanded that the remission order should be cancelled and they should face harsh imprisonment until their death.
AIDWA also demanded justice for Indra Meghwal, a dalit boy who was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher in Rajasthan for drinking water from a pot meant for upper-] castes. Addressing the women’s organisation said: “The decision taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2014 regarding the release of prisoners is that convicts facing life imprisonment or death sentences for rape, gang rape, or murder shall not be eligible for remission of sentences. This policy should be applied in the present case.”
Naaveddu Nilladiddare said it was planning another round of protests in Karnataka on August 27.
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