‘Does Prime Minister Modi believe in his own words on women’s safety?’: Congress on release of Bilkis Bano convicts

Congress Spokesman Pawan Khera said that in the Bilkis Bano case, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to pay him compensation of ₹50 lakh

Congress Spokesman Pawan Khera said that in the Bilkis Bano case, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to pay him compensation of ₹50 lakh

On August 16, Congress denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the release of 11 people convicted of rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 Gujarat riots hours after he praised “Nari Shakti in his Independence Day speech and alleged decision reflects the mindset of the BJP.

Congress Spokesman Pawan Khera questioned whether the Prime Minister’s statements made sense and said Mr Modi should tell the country if he himself believed his words when talking about security, respect and empowerment of women.

“The BJP government in Gujarat has released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. This decision brings out the mindset of the BJP government,” he told reporters.

He also referred to the Kathua and Unnao cases and said it embarrasses everyone in politics when leaders and supporters of a national political party are seen rallying in support of rapists in the streets.

“Yesterday, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the Prime Minister said great things about women’s safety, women’s power, women’s respect. A few hours later, the government of Gujarat freed those responsible for the rape. We have also seen that rape convicts who have been released are honored. Is this the Amrit Mahotsav?” Mr. Khera asked.

“Congress calls on the Prime Minister to tell the country that what he said from the walls of Red Fort was just talk, because he himself did not believe it.

“Who is the real Narendra Modi? The one who serves the lie from the ramparts of the Red Fort or the one who gets his Gujarat government to release the perpetrators of rapes. This Congress party and the country want to know,” asked the leader of Congress.

He said that in the Bilkis Bano case, the Supreme Court ordered the government of Gujarat to pay him compensation of ₹50 lakh.

The 11 convicts who were released from Godhra sub-gaol on Monday were found guilty of gang rape of a pregnant woman, murder and unlawful assembly under sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Gujarat government has allowed their release as part of its remission policy.

On January 21, 2008, a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Mumbai sentenced the 11 defendants to life imprisonment for gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

Mara R. Wilmoth