We are surprised, says Bilkis Bano's husband after 11 convicts get released
Bilkis Bano's husband, Yakub Rasul, said that he learned about their release from the media. Rasul said they don't know when the convicts submitted their application or which ruling the state government took into consideration.
A day after 11 convicts were sentenced to life in prison for Bilkis Bano's gang rape and murder of seven of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots walked out of jail, Bilkis Bano's husband said that he learned about their release through the media.
The convicts, who were also charged with the murder of the pregnant Muslim woman's three-year-old daughter, were greeted outside the Godhra jail with sweets and garlands after their release on Monday.
While talking to PTI, Bilkis Bano's husband, Yakub Rasul, said, "We are surprised to learn that the convicts have been released."
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the violence in Godhra in the aftermath of the Sabarmati train incident.
"We don't know when the convicts filed their application or which ruling the state government considered," Rasul stated that he had received no notice.
Rasul stated that the Gujarat government had paid the family Rs 50 lakh in compensation as ordered by the Supreme Court but had yet to provide a job or a house as ordered by the apex court.
Rasul claims to live in virtual hiding with his wife and five sons, the oldest one is 20 years old.
In 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai sentenced the 11 accused to life in prison for gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family. Subsequently, the Bombay High Court upheld their conviction.
Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana are the 11 convicts who were granted early release.
Radheshyam Shah, the convict whose request for premature release paved the way for all 11 life sentence convicts to be released, said he feels happy after being released.
Shah said, "The Gujarat government has released us as per the Supreme Court's order. I am glad to be out as now I'll be able to meet my family members and start a new life."
"We were convicted and imprisoned. When I was not released after 14 years in prison, I petitioned the Supreme Court for remission. We were released after the Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to make a decision," he added.
After serving more than 15 years in prison, the convicts were released on Monday under the Gujarat government's remission policy.
Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their release.
In his Independence Day speech, Modi asked Indians to pledge not to do anything that lowers the dignity of women, according to Owaisi.
He mentioned something about Nari Shakti. The Gujarat BJP government released criminals convicted of gang rape on the same day. Owaisi tweeted, "The message is clear."
(With inputs from PTI)