File photo: Gujarat gang-rape survivor Bilkis Yakub Rasool Bano . (ANI Photo)
Dear Bilkis Bano,
Let me begin by offering an unequivocal and sincere apology on behalf of all Indians – at least, those who agree that a massive miscarriage of justice has taken place in your case. After all, how else does one explain the premature release, whatever be the explanation, of 11 convicts who gang-raped you two decades ago?
Not only were you gang-raped and had to lose your five-month-old unborn child in your womb, who couldn’t survive the ordeal, not only did you witness the killing of several of your relatives, but now you also have to suffer the pain of watching the 11 criminals walk free, feted by politicians as if they were not coming out of prison but after having scored some kind of victory over enemies of India.
A BJP MLA in Gujarat, also a member of the committee that recommended the release of the 11 convicts, even went to the extent of trying to justify the release by saying, “Crime Kiya Ki Nahi Kiya, Hum Ko Pata Nahi Hai. (I do not know if they committed the crime or not). Their families’ activities were very good, they are Brahmins. Brahmins have good sanskar. People may have had malicious intentions behind punishing them and keeping them imprisoned.”
Having seen all this, I can only apologise. The apology is from a Hindu woman, who has the privilege to be an upper caste and knows that whatever the excuse being offered by those trying to explain the grossly unjust decision to release the 11 convicts, you have been wronged. Your unborn child, who was just 4 months away from seeing this world, has been wronged. The 14 of your family members, who were killed in the most horrific riots of Gujarat, have been wronged.
I don’t know whether some court will intervene, try and set this right. What I can only hope for is that you realise you aren’t alone, every right-thinking Indian understands your trauma.
I read your note and am in complete agreement with every word of that letter, especially where you say that your faith in justice has been shaken. It saddens me to say this but the harsh reality, Bilkis, is that in India the keenness to please the political class is just so overpowering – morality be damned.
August 15 is a day India celebrates its independence. Now it will also remain etched in our minds as the day the world witnessed the charade of 11 rapists celebrating their freedom.
I hope the letter that TRS MLC K Kavitha has written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, requesting him to intervene in the Gujarat government’s decision to release the convicts yields some action from the judiciary.
I also agree with Telangana minister KT Rama Rao when he says that no rapist should get bail and when convicted should remain in jail till death.
The onus is on the courts to ensure your sense of injustice is not prolonged. I also hope no other woman has to suffer your agony.