The husband of Bilkis Bano on Tuesday said that they were surprised after getting to know about the release of all 11 convicts who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for her gang rape and murder of seven of her family members during the Gujarat riots in 2002.
Yakub Rasul, Bano’s husband said that he did not wish to comment on the development, reported PTI.
Rasul said that he, his wife and five sons continue to live without a permanent address, more than 20 years after the incident.
All 11 convicts in the case were on Monday released from the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed it under its remission policy.
The accused in the matter had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai in 2008. They had been charged with the gang rape of Bano and the murder of seven members of her family. Their conviction was upheld by the Bombay High Court later.
Rasul mentioned that came to know about their release from the media. He said, “We had no knowledge about when they (convicts) processed their application and which judgement the state government took into consideration. We never received any kind of notice and were not told about this. There was no way we could have known about this in advance.”
He further said that he was out of words and did not know what to say about the government’s’ decision.
Bano’s husband said, “We don't intend to say anything on this. I can talk only after getting the details. All we want to do is pray for peace of the souls of our near and dear ones we lost their lives in the riots. Everyday we remember those who were killed in the incident, including our daughter.”
Rasul also mentioned that the government in Gujarat had paid the family a compensation amount of Rs 50 lakhs as directed by the Supreme Court.
He said, “But the government has not yet made any arrangements for a job or house as directed by the Supreme Court. We have no fixed address yet, we can't yet talk about where we live, it is quite difficult for us to do so.”
He said that the compensation amount is being used for the education of his sons.
Meanwhile, the 11 convicts who were granted release are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
Moreover, Radheshyam Shah, whose plea for early bail led to all 11 walking out of jail, said that he feels happy to be released.
He said, “The Gujarat government has released us as per the order of the Supreme Court. I feel glad to be out as I will be able to meet my family members and begin a new life. We were convicted and lodged in jail. When I was not released after completing 14 years in jail, I approached the Supreme Court for remission. The top court directed the Gujarat government to take a decision, after which we were released.”
They were released on Monday having completed more than 15 years in jail, under the Gujarat government’s remission policy.
It may be noted that on March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the post-Gujarat riots. Bano was five months pregnant at the time and was subjected to gang rape, while seven members of her family were killed in front of her.
Riots broke out in Gujarat after the burning of a Sabarmati Express coach killing 59 karsevaks on February 27, 2002.
The violence had claimed the lives of 1,044 people, mostly Muslims, across different parts of the state.