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India, Bilgis Bano case. 11 people convicted in the brutal rape and murder case have been acquitted. Anger and protests

Saleha is only three years old. The attackers smashed his head against the ground – in front of Bilgis Bano’s horrified mother. A 21-year-old woman, five months pregnant, was raped by a man she knew. Thinking she was already dead, her torturers left her naked in the street. When she regained consciousness, she found fourteen members of her family brutally murdered. After fifteen years of fighting, his torturers were legally sentenced to life imprisonment. Recently – to the outrage of the country’s citizens and international public opinion – they were released.

Garlands appeared on the streets, sweets were made. And so, in the predominantly Hindu Indian village of Randikpur, one of the men who – in theory – should never have been released was hailed. In 2008, he was sentenced to life in prison for participating in a nightmare in 2002 in the Indian state of Gujarat. At that time, the Muslims living there were attacked. It was seen as retaliation for the deaths of 59 Indian pilgrims who died in a train fire days ago. Although the inquest did not confirm this, the tragedy was recognized by the public as a Muslim attack.

Bilgis Bano was 21 and five months pregnant when the riots broke out. She and her family attempted to flee the attacked town. However, on the way, a group of several dozen people stopped them. The attackers – as the woman told The New York Times – first killed her three-year-old daughter.

The people of India are outraged by the release of the convictsAPE

“They dragged her out of the truck and smashed her head on the ground,” the woman said. Later, she says, she was brutally gang-raped. Bano knew her torturers – many lived in the same town as her. During her dream, the attackers took turns killing her family members. Bano survived because her torturers thought she was already dead. They made her lie naked on the floor. Next to it were the bodies of his family members.

A fight for justice

Bilgis Bano – as he said – had to fight with Indian justice to demand that the killers be punished. In an interview with ‘The Hindu’, he said the police deliberately obstructed the investigation and threatened him with something bad for publicizing the matter. However, he did not resign – he approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and referred the case to the Supreme Court of India.

Read more: Sexual violence in India. Report

A month later, all the torturers she named were arrested. The trial, which began in 2004, resulted in the conviction of 13 of the 20 defendants. Eleven men – who were convicted of gang rape and the murder of relatives of Bano – will never be released again. The court found that the local police had in fact obstructed the collection of evidence and sentenced one of the uniformed officers to three years in prison.

Sanctions are valid in 2017. Bilgis Bano and his relatives believed that the dream of years ago was over forever. They were wrong.

Men from “good families”.

Earlier this year, one of the prisoners petitioned India’s Supreme Court for early release. He pointed out that a law passed in 1992 gave judges the right to release prisoners who had been in prison for 14 years to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court ruled that the claim should be considered by administrative authorities in the state of Gujarat, where the crime took place years ago.

The local authorities therefore appointed a commission, which concluded that the convicts could now be released. On August 15, 11 prisoners were released from Godhra prison. A video has been released online showing the families of convicts outside the prison walls greeting them with sweets and touching their feet as a sign of respect.

The decision to release the convicts was met with opposition from international opinion, but at the same time with the understanding of Indian People’s Party politicians. His politician CK Rowley was part of the commission which acquitted 11 people. He stressed, “I don’t know.” [skazańcy – red.] Whether or not they committed a crime. “In an interview with local reporters, he implied that the punishment was inflicted by ‘high caste’ Hindu believers, as New York Times reporters recalled:

Bilgis Bano’s dream came true in 2002APE

– Their family functioning was very good; They are Brahmins. Like Brahmins, their values ​​were very good,” Rawlji said. When his comments sparked a wave of anger in the community, he tried to step down. The politician argued that the “words were taken out of context” after learning the comment had been videotaped.

The peace has been lost

In a BBC interview, Bilgis Bano made no secret of the fact that the decision to free the torturers left him “broken”.

When I learned that they were free, I felt terrible, numb fear. “I believed in the justice system of this country,” he said.

She said she had to move and hide her identity many times over the years – until the men’s final judgment – for fear of reprisals. In 2017, she believed her dream was over.

Her husband Yakub Rasool insisted no one had told the family that the convicts might be freed.

The Supreme Court has announced that the decision of local bodies to release the prisoners should be reviewedAPE

The Indian people were not indifferent to the dream of the woman and her family: protests began in the streets and the Supreme Court received petitions indicating the need to analyze the decision of local authorities on the early release of 11 prisoners.

India’s Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it would review the case to determine whether to overturn the Gujarat government’s decision.

India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, was Gujarat’s chief minister at the time of the riots, and his Indian nationalist Bharatiya Janata party continues to rule the country.

Reuters, BBC, New York Times

Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Jagadish NV

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