Half of remission panel in Bilkis Bano case are BJP MLAs, members

Protestors demand to reconsider the remission and requests to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance as well as undo the harm

Darshan DesaiUpdated: Friday, August 19, 2022, 09:12 PM IST
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Ahmedabad: Social activists being detained during a protest against the release of eleven people convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 post-Godhra riots under the Gujarat governments remission policy, in Ahmedabad, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. | (PTI Photo)

Ahmedabad: New incriminating facts continue to emerge in the August 15 premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case and mass murder in the 2002 Gujarat violence almost every day. The latest bit is that five of the 10-member remission committee are associated with the BJP, including two sitting MLAs.

One of the five is Godhra legislator CK Raulji, who told a TV interview that the convicts were “sanskari Brahmins” and might have been framed by opponents. Another MLA from Kaalol, Sumanben Chauhan, was among the key witnesses to the Godhra train burning incident which left 58 people, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, on February 27, 2002.

Another member Vinita Lele has been listed in the committee as a social worker while her social media profile says she is a BJP member. There is a “social worker” by the name Pavanbhai Soni, who happens to be a member of the BJP’s State Executive Committee as reflected in the ruling party’s website. His address and contact number could also be found on the party’s website.

Then, there is another “social worker”, Sardarsinh Patel, who is also a BJP member.

The other members of the committee headed by Panchmahals District Collector Sujal Mayatra include the Jail Superintendent, the District Superintendent of Police, Principal District and Sessions Judge and a district social welfare officer. The District Collectorate told mediapersons that this was an existing advisory remission committee and not one created specially to look into this case. The State Government has already stated the committee went into the number of years already spent by the convicts in the jail and their overall conduct inside.

Meanwhile, protestors demand to reconsider the remission and requests to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance as well as undo the harm.

In a massive countrywide signature campaign, more than 6,000 eminent citizens, human and women’s rights activists and historians have called upon the Supreme Court to “undo this grave miscarriage of justice”.

The joint statement lamented that it shames them that on Independence Day, the women in India saw gang-rapists and mass murderers freed by the government as a largesse.

The signatories include Syeda Hameed, Zafarul Islam Khan, Uma Chakravarti, Subhasini Ali, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah, Hasina Khan, Rachana Mudraboyina, Shabnam Hashmi, Father Cedric Prakash, Ashima Roy Chowdhury, Prasad Chacko, Shilpa Phadke and Indu Chandrashekhar.

The civil rights groups include Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Gamana Mahila Samuh, Bebaaq Collective, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Pragatisheel Mahila Manch, Parcham Collective, Jagrit Adivasi-Dalit Sangathan, Amoomat Society, WomCom Matters, Centre for Struggling Women and Sahiyar.

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