The 2002 anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat is regarded by the civilized world as the darkest spot in the history of Independent India. And the most horrible and heinous event in this state supported pogrom was the tormentation of 21 years old lady Bilkis Bano. When the 5 months pregnant Bilkis along with her family fled her village, her own neighbours pursued her. She was raped by them and her 3 years old daughter was smashed to death. Her mother and entire family of seven including 3 women were hacked to death. However, she miraculously survived the inhuman and brutal attacks.
The then government was hell bent on saving the perpetrators. First, the police refused to file an F.I.R. and declared that there was no proof and no witnesses. The human rights activists launched a relentless campaign to seek justice for Bilkis and her family. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took the case to the Supreme Court. The Apex Court found that there was no hope of securing justice to Bilkis and her family in Gujarat. Because the atmosphere was poisoned and the political establishment was not interested in facilitating a fair trial. Therefore, the case was transferred to Bombay. The Bombay High Court confirmed the special court’s judgement which convicted the entire gang of 11 culprits and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Bilkis and her family got at least a measure of justice from Bombay High Court in 2008.
The granting of remission by a panel of Gujarat government and release of the convicts on 15th August, the Independence Day, just when PM Modi was pleading for respect and dignity of women from ramparts of the Red Fort, has enraged the whole country, especially the womenfolk. This is being condemned by the whole country as travesty of justice and a communal and political decision. It has been condemned even by the US Commission for Religious Freedom.
Various appeals are being made to the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognisance and revoke the remission. A host of women organisations have joined hands, demonstrated in several cities and appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene. These trends show that the saner elements of India are not yet ready to fall prey to the communal and criminal tendencies being promoted by certain political outfits.
The comments in TV debates, social media and newspapers also indicate that if the remission is not revoked, it will serve as a signal to every woman and girl that her honour and life is not safe in India. Let us hope the Supreme Court will suo moto intervene and fulfil its duty to uphold rule of law and protect human rights.