Who is Bilkis Bano?- Know the Brave Woman. - Seeker's Thoughts

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Thursday, 25 April 2019

Who is Bilkis Bano?- Know the Brave Woman.


Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano is a victim of 2002 riots in Gujarat. She was gangraped brutally, and she was 5 months pregnant at that time and was 19 years old. 
Bilkis Bano 
Credit- women's blog
Her family members were killed by the mob, and there only two survivors. 2002 riots brought to much bitterness in people’s heart and community became more distant psychologically. However, she sought for justice not revenge as she said that.


What happened in 2002 riots?

In 2002, people did not realize that riots for three days would have so much impact on lives. The violence was for three days in west Gujarat. Later on it continued for three months.

According to the news sources at that time, there were more outbreaks of violence against a particular minority community.

According to the official figure, 1044 ended dead, 223 went missing and 2500 were injured. There were other reports, which estimated that there were more than 2000 people dead.

Many brutal killings and rape happened. 



Why did violence happen?

There were many reasons behind these incidents, and not every reason is publicly stated by media.

The first reason remains the element of mistrust which is invoked by religious figures from time to time.

The hatred is carried by the most for other communities and that hatred was triggers by burning of a train in Godhra on 27th February 2002.

In train 58 Hindu pilgrims were returning from Ayodhya.

Ayodhya is a religious place of Hindus and a site of demolished Babri Masjid. According to the sources, there was an arugment between the train passengers and the vendors on the railway stations.

The argument became violent and under uncertain circumstances four coaches of the train caught fire with many people trapped inside. In the resulting conflagration, fifty-nine people (nine men, twenty-five women, and twenty-five children) burned to death.

Following the attack on the train, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) called for a statewide bandh, or strike. Although the Supreme Court had declared such strikes to be unconstitutional and illegal, and despite the common tendency for such strikes to be followed by violence, no action was taken by the state to prevent the strike.

 The government did not attempt to stop the initial outbreak of violence across the state


What is the connection between Narendra Modi and 2002 riots?

This always remain a ‘controversial topic’ attached with Mr. Narendra Modi’s name.

In 2002, Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.  He was ‘accused’ of initiating and condoning the violence and police and other government officials were also included for allegedly directing the riots and ‘gave’ muslim owned properties in the hands of mob.

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However, in 2012, Narendra Modi was cleared by SIT (Special Investigation Team) appointed by the Supreme Court of India. 

The SIT also rejected claims that the state government had not done enough to prevent the riots.The Muslim community was reported to have reacted with anger and disbelief. In July 2013 allegations were made that the SIT had suppressed evidence.

That December, an Indian court upheld the earlier SIT report and rejected a petition seeking Modi's prosecution. 

In April 2014, the Supreme Court expressed satisfaction over the SIT's investigations in nine cases related to the violence, and rejected as "baseless" a plea contesting the SIT report.

Attacks on Minority and woman

There have been different interviews and reports of individuals who say that the attack was planned and has hurt Muslims more, while on the same time there have been reports from Times Group which states that thousands of Hindus were displaced. According to Police Reports, 157 riots after Godhara incident were started by Muslims.

There is no denying that in religious and communal hatred, innocent lives have been taken and women have been violated, which side lost more, various claims can be made. But the only community which lost the maximum was humanity. In the name of community, people acted barbaric, and there should have been a stop to that.

Women were raped, and violence against women also included them being stripped naked, violated with objects, and then killed.

According to Kalpana Kannabiran the rapes were part of a well-organized, deliberate and pre-planned strategy, and which facts place the violence into the categories of political pogrom and genocide.


2002 riots were certainly a state failure, and a symbol of religious hatred.

2002 riots were certainly a state failure, and remain a symbol of religious hatred. In a day no one learns to hate that can take a weapon and kill, for sure there is a strong need to understand that the religious hatred can cost a lot, so Mahatma Gandhi gave the principle of ‘tolerance’.


What exactly happened with Bilkis Bano?

On 3rd March 2002 Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village. The village is near Ahmedabad.

Bilkis was five months pregnant at that time. She was gang raped and even several members of her family were killed.

Initially the trial began in Ahmedabad. However, the case was vulnerable and Bilkis expressed that the witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence can be tempered with, the case was transferred by the Supreme Court to Mumbai in August 2004.

A special court on 21 January 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping her and murdering several family members. There were 7 people more which included 5 policemen and two doctors who acquitted in 2008. 
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The high court on May 4, 2017 convicted these seven people under charges of not performing their duties and tampering with evidence. The court used two sections 218 of IPC for not performing their duty and 201 is for the tampering with evidence.

Not only that the court has dismissed the appeals of two doctors and a policemen including an IPS officer R S Bhagora that there were clear cut evidence against them.

The convicts approached even Bombay High Court and sought quashing and setting aside the trail court’s conviction.

The CBI on the other hand filed an appeal in high court seeking harsher punishment to the death for three of the convicted persons. These convicted persons the main perpator of the crime according to the CBI.

Convicted also challenged the CBI’s order- and they accused CBI to fabricate the evidence and Bilkis gave birth to child so she was not gang raped, and the body of her family members not found so they said that it was a proof that they were not killed.

The Supreme Court on 23rd April 2019 asked the Gujarat government to pay compensation of Rs 50 lakh to Bilkis Bano.

The court, while hearing a plea of Bilkis Bano, also directed the Gujarat Government to provide her a government job and accommodation as per rules. Not only that the  state government had offered an interim compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Bano.

Even, the Supreme Court has asked for the pension benefits of three police officers to be withdrawn.

What has changed constitutionally since Bilkis Bano’s Case?

The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in 2008. A Section 357A was inserted and due to which every State government has to prepare a scheme to set up a fund. This fund has to be utilised to pay compensation to victims of crime and their dependants who have suffered loss and injury and who may require rehabilitation.

The Centre has a Central Victim Compensation Fund. On Supreme Court directions, the National Legal Services Authority has prepared a compensation scheme for women victims and survivors of sexual assault and other crimes.

Many States have notified schemes on these lines. While on paper there is a mechanism to assess rehabilitation needs and pay compensation, there is a need to streamline the schemes and ensure that the compensation process is not done in an ad hoc manner, but is based on sound principles.

Is compensation enough for rape survivor?

The brutality and wounds which are suffered physically, emotionally and psychologically during rape, the compensation does not heal them.

She was five months pregnant in 2002 and the justice has been delivered in 2019 while she felt threatened various times in this time period.

Her child and entire family might have gone through a rough road and money is just a token for justice.


The state government’s negligence to protect its citizens remains a horrific crime.

The judgement of Supreme Court, where the court has asked from the state government for compensation for Bilkis Bano underlines the state’s obligation for horrific crimes.

Conclusion

The order of the Supreme Court provides for the damages to Bilkis’s Constitutional right to life, right to bodily integrity, and right to be protected by the State. The order even encourages right to seek justice for wrongs suffered by her among others.

However, the justice should have been speedy. Though the compensation is not enough to recover what she has lost in these years and due to that horrific event, yet people’s faith in justice remains stable.



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