Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has condemned the Union Ministry of Home Affair’s consent to release Bilkis Bano rapists, calling it ‘unfortunate’ and ‘quite reprehensible’.
In a statement to the media on October 19, JIH Vice President Prof Salim Engineer said, “By agreeing with the Gujarat government under its amended remission policy for the release of 11 men convicted of gangraping a pregnant Bilkis Bano and murdering 14 members of her family, including her 3-year-old daughter in the Gujarat violence in 2002, the MHA has given the impression that it sides with criminals and rapists and not with the victim. This exposes its hollow claims to be the defender of women’s rights and empowerment. It has not only hurt Bilkis Bano and members of her family but also the deprived sections of our country.
“It is very unfortunate that in our system rapists are being honoured as was seen in the case of Unnao, Kathua and Hathras. It seems that reaping political dividends by appeasing a particular vote bank is more important for the ruling dispensation than justice. We condemn the decision and hope the apex court intervenes in the matter to reverse this grave injustice carried out under the guise of official government policy.”
The JIH leader further said: “It has come to light that the Superintendent of Police, CBI, Special Crime Branch, Mumbai, and the Special Civil Judge (CBI), City Civil and Sessions Court, Greater Bombay had opposed the early release of the prisoners. It is regrettable that the MHA still approved of the remission of these convicts despite knowing that they were guilty of the most heinous crimes like rape and murder.
“If the government is defending its decision that the release was as per law then it must realise that this move is likely to embolden criminals and rapists. They will be confident of being bailed out by the system sooner or later despite committing the most heinous crimes. Media reports indicate that all 11 convicts were given the benefit of parole, furlough, and temporary bail to the extent of 1000 days during their jail tenure. This shows that the Gujarat government considered them to be heroes and worthy of all possible leniency and patronage.
“How these convicts are being felicitated and lauded by some groups is quite reprehensible. The entire episode undeniably sets a dangerous precedent that will shake the foundations of our justice delivery system. It is bound to affect our reputation in the international community. The rapists and killers in the Bilkis Bano case must not be released if we want to preserve democracy and the rule of law.”