'We are very upset': TS women join BJY demanding 'Justice for Bilkis Bano'

Sajaya Kakarla, part of the women and transgender committee and Varsha Bhargavi of 'Where are the women' pinned `Justice for Bilkis Bano' stickers on their dresses to draw the attention of the people.

By KANIZA GARARI  Published on  27 Oct 2022 5:40 AM GMT
We are very upset: TS women join BJY demanding Justice for Bilkis Bano

Hyderabad: `Justice for Bilkis Bano' slogans rent the air as Bharat Jodo Yatra resumed after the three-day Diwali break from Makthal in Telangana's Mahbubnagar on Thursday.

Sajaya Kakarla, part of the women and transgender committee and Varsha Bhargavi of 'Where are the women' pinned `Justice for Bilkis Bano' stickers on their dresses to draw the attention of the people.

Women activists said stickers and pledge-taking will be part of the `Justice for Bilkis Bano' campaign during the yatra. Women's organizations are keen to raise this issue and create awareness about injustice.

Women civil society members said Bilkis Bano's trauma cannot be undermined.

"The release of the rapists by the government reflects very badly on society in general and women's safety in particular. Nothing is being done about it. We want the government to know that we are very upset," said Varsha Bhargavi.

Earlier in September, a team led by Varsha started a henna tattoo campaign in Hyderabad to draw the attention of people toward this issue. Around 20 men and women got themselves tattooed with 'Justice for Bilkis Bano'.

Bilkis Bano case

In 2002, communal riots broke out in Gujarat after 57 Hindu pilgrims were charred to death in a train at Godhra. Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims died in the riots that followed. Fourteen of Bilkis Bano's family members were murdered in the riots. Bano, then 19 and pregnant, was gang raped and left to die by 11 men from her village. However, she survived. Six years later, 11 accused were sentenced to life imprisonment for gang rape and murder.

On August 15, 2022, all 11 convicts were released from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy. The factors taken into consideration for remission include "age, nature of the crime, behavior in prison".

On September 19, a prosecution witness in the Bilkis Bano case wrote to Chief Justice UU Lalit claiming that he was threatened by one of the men convicted of murder and rape.

Meanwhile, on October 17, a court document revealed that it was the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that recommended the premature release of Bilkis Bano case convicts.

The affidavit filed by the Gujarat government showed that the Superintendent of Police, CBI, Special Crime Branch Mumbai, and Special Judge (CBI) Mumbai opposed the remission of the convicts' sentence. However, the MHA sought their early release.

Participation by social organizations

About 100 independent organizations and thousands of social activists and concerned citizens are planning to participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Telangana. They expressed solidarity with the core objectives of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. These include uniting the country against hatred and divisive politics, safeguarding the Constitution, democratic rights, and secularism, and combating economic deprivation of common people and the working class.

These organizations and people are making it clear that their participation is not about political support to the Congress party but about standing up for the core values of India which are under threat.

Meanwhile, K. Sajaya, Kiran Vissa, and Zahid Qadri from the Civil Society working group for BJY engagement interacted with Rahul Gandhi at 7 am this morning.

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