Mumbai: The Shiv Sena on Sunday questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case and also asked if felicitation of rapists was "Hindu culture".
The comments were made in Rokhthok column of the Sena mouthpiece Saamana which carried the 'Kadaknath Mumbaikar' byline and not of the Marathi daily's executive editor Sanjay Raut, who is currently in jail on money laundering charges.
Bilkis Bano was five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots which broke out after the Godhra train burning in 2002. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven killed.
The 11 men convicted in the case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had completed more than 15 years in jail.
Some reports had claimed that they were felicitated by local leaders upon release.
The column in Saamana said NCP president Sharad Pawar says PM Modi does not practice what he preaches.
"The Bilkis case has proven him right," it said.
It is surprising that the convicts were released when PM Modi spoke of women empowerment in his Independence Day speech, the Marathi publication said.
Why are PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah quiet on this issue? it asked.
"Is felicitating rapists Hindu culture?" the Sena sought to know.
Just because Bilkis Bano is a Muslim, the crime against her cannot be forgiven, it said.
"It is not a Hindu-Muslim issue, but a matter of the soul of Hindutva and prestige of our great culture," the Sena said.
"When the PM visits Gujarat, he should visit her (Bilkis Bano) and extended his support," it said.
Several organisations across the country have protested against the release of the 11 convicts by the Gujarat government in the Bilkis Bano case.