Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Who’s Shaming India Now? Bilkis Bano’s Rapist Seen on Stage at Gujarat Govt Event

Videos and photos of one of the 11 prematurely released convicts Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt show him on the dais with BJP’s Dahod MP Jasvant Sinh Bhabhor and his brother, Limkheda MLA Sailesh Bhabhor.
Bilkis Bano Case

New Delhi: At a time when ministers in the Narendra Modi cabinet are going hoarse seeking an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for ‘shaming India’, the country's image couldn’t have got a bigger blot than a convicted and prematurely released rapist seen sharing the dais with ruling BJP leaders.

On Sunday, one of the 11 men convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, was spotted sharing the stage with a Bharatiya Janata Party’s MP and an MLA at an event, according to an NDTV report.

Videos and photographs of the event, which took place in Karmadi Village of Dahod district on March 25, show the prematurely freed convict Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt on stage with Dahod MP Jasvant Sinh Bhabhor and his brother, Limkheda MLA Sailesh Bhabhor. “He was seen posing with them for photos at the event and even participating in the puja. The two leaders, who had tweeted the images and videos, were not available for comment,” says the NDTV report.

Bilkis Bano, who was pregnant during the 2002 communal carnage, was gang-raped by the 11 convicted men. Her 6-year-old daughter was also killed as were several family members hacked to death by a Hindu Right-wing mob. This was the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state. Thousands of Muslims were killed during the communal riots that year.

Bano, who faced several death threats after she filed a case in 2004, sought a transfer of the case from Gujarat to Mumbai, which was cleared by the Supreme Court. The 11 men were convicted in 2008 by a CBI special court and sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, on August 15 last year, India’s Independence Day, the 11 convicts walked out free from the Godhra jail, welcomed by garlands and sweets in BJP-ruled Gujarat, after the Modi government at the Centre cleared the state government’s remission plea. The 11 men had completed only 14 years of their prison term.

The Centre’s green signal to Gujarat government’s plea came despite opposition from a court and federal prosecutors who had said they should not be "released prematurely and no leniency may be shown" to them as their crime was "heinous, grave and serious”.

After the release of her rapists, a shocked and heart-broken Bilkis Bano had said it was “one of the most gruesome crimes this country has ever seen” adding that the premature release of her rapists had made her “relive” her “trauma”.

A new bench of the Supreme Court will today (March 27) hear petitions challenging the early release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape and murder case.

This followed a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala assuring Bilkis Bano last month that a new bench would be formed at the earliest to hear petitions against their release.

A bunch of petitions have been filed against the release of the rapists, including by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, CPI(M) politburo member Subhashini Ali and others.

Bano has filed two petitions. One asking the apex court to review its May 2022 order, directing the Gujarat government to consider a convict's release plea. This was dismissed by the court.

“In response to the court's direction and the convict's release petition, the Gujarat government had released all the convicts on the basis of an outdated policy. It had consulted a panel that included men linked to the ruling BJP.

The panel members had justified their decision calling the men "sanskari" Brahmins who have already served 14 years in prison and displayed good behaviour,” says a NDTV report.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram