Saturday, August 20, 2022

India - Bilkis Bano case: Communists vehemently condemn the release of rapists and murderers

Bilkis Bano was five-months pregnant when she was attacked by a Hindu mob in 2002 as anti-Muslim violence gripped the western Indian state of Gujarat. Bano, then 21 years old, was gang-raped by sword-wielding men from her neighborhood. Fourteen of her family members were killed, including her 3-year-old daughter, who was snatched from her arms and bashed against a rock.

A few days ago, on the 15th of August, 11 men serving a life sentence for the crimes were released from prison on remission by the Gujarat state government, sparking widespread outrage and an emotional appeal for justice from Bano. 

In a message posted on social media, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) wrote: CPI(M) strongly condemns Gujarat Govt remission of life sentence given to gangrapists and killers of 2002 genocide in the Bilkis Bano case. This is the real face of New India— convicted killers and rapists released. Activist Teesta who fought for justice was jailed. 

"This reveals the true face of the India that the BJP wants to create. If our women are neither secure, respected or feeling free, then we are all, as a country or society, not free", CPI (M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury commented on Twitter. In an article published on NDTV, CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat asked for the intervention of Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah.

In a statement, the All India Working Women Forum of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) points out:

"All India Working Women Forum of AITUC registers the most vehement condemnation on the release of the rapists of Bilkis Bano.  Gujarat government has released the 11 criminals serving life sentence for the heinous crimes of rape and murder in the infamous Bilkis Bano gang rape case. The release that was recommended by the committee under the Gujarat remission policy is in violation of the Union Government’s guidelines for remission.These guidelines exclude those who are convicted for rape and murder for the benefit of remission.They, in any yardstick, do not deserve consideration for early release. AIWWF – AITUC, while condemning the release, very strongly urges upon the Union government to intervene to withdraw the release of these convicts – rapists and murderers.

Bilkis Bano.
In a weird dichotomy of sorts the Prime Minister, in his Independence day address from the ramparts of the red fort, talks of respecting ‘narishakthi’, on the same day his own party led government releases the rapists. The Machiavellian manoeuvres of the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi scale newer heights day by day. Deceptive double talk of ‘beti bachao’ is flagrantly exposed yet again. This release is a double jeopardy of gender and religion. Odious blend of gender prejudice and communal hatred of the Hindutva ideology has reached a crescendo. Yet, the Prime Minister masquerades as the messiah of the masses shamelessly. Nothing that happens is casual. Everything is conscientiously done with the particular knowledge of the Prime Minister. This is dangerous for the country. The Prime Minister must take the moral responsibility and owe an apology to the nation before setting right the wrong done in the release of the criminals.

Ironically this is the real face of the ‘New India’ that Mr Modi boasts of. This is indeed a disgraced and ignominious reality that India is dishonourably faced with. The premature release of the rapists brings more outrage now than the wretched pain and desolate anguish of the blood curdling act of gang rape of Bilkis Bano, a pregnant woman and the brutal killing of her family including her three year old daughter. This release is an affront against the doctrine of justice and a slur on the constitutional commitment to protect women. All India Working Women Forum of AITUC terms the release of the rapists and murders as shameful, outrageous and condemnable and demands immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the release and reincarceration of the criminals."