Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday termed “shameful” the release of the 11 life-term convicts in the Bilkis Bano case under the Gujarat government’s remission policy.
Speaking to reporters in Thane in Maharashtra, Pawar said the release of the convicts is contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address wherein he had appealed to people to respect women.
“Atrocities on women are on the rise in the country. When the courts have awarded them imprisonment till death such a decision by the Gujarat government to release the convicts in the Bilkis case was a shameful one,” he said.
Pawar also suggested that activist Teesta Setalvad’s arrest was wrong.
“What the Gujarat government is doing in the Teesta Setalvad case is totally wrong,” he said.
Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat Police in June for allegedly submitting false evidence in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
The 11 men sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the gang rape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat communal riots and the murder of seven members of her family walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had served more than 15 years in jail.
The Supreme Court had directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of the sentence of one of the convicts.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat. Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at that time, was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed.