- Bilkis Bano was gang-ra*ed while pregnant and had her three-year-old daughter slaughtered during Gujarat riots.
- The 11 men who were sentenced to life in prison in 2008 were freed on Monday.
- Gujarat riots of 2002 resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, largely of Muslims.
A Muslim woman who was gang-ra*ed while pregnant and had her three-year-old daughter and 13 other family members slaughtered by a Hindu mob during Gujarat riots has pleaded with authorities to reverse their decision to let the 11 men who had been imprisoned for the murders go free.
When she and her family were attacked during the Gujarat riots of 2002, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, largely of Muslims, Bilkis Bano was 19 years old and five months pregnant.
The 11 men who were sentenced to life in prison in 2008 for rape, murder, and unlawful assembly were freed on Monday in Panchmahals, a state in western India.
The media captured the inmates receiving candy outside the jail.
According to a representative, the district jail advisory council approved their release after taking into account how long they had been imprisoned and their good behaviour.
“The fact is they had spent close to 15 years in jail and were eligible for remission,” Sujal Jayantibhai Mayatra said.
After serving 14 years in prison, Indian law permits prisoners to apply for remission.
She then made a statement through a lawyer in which she claimed the news had left her “bereft of words” and “numb”, and “shaken” her faith in the legal system.
“No one enquired about my safety and well-being, before taking such a big and unjust decision.
“The trauma of the past 20 years washed over me again.”
She has now appealed to the Gujarat government to “undo this harm”.
“Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace. Please ensure that my family and I are kept safe,” she said.
Outrage over the decision led to demonstrations on Thursday in New Delhi, the nation’s capital.
Placards with the slogan “Protecting rapists and penalizing victims” were carried by protesters.
The revelation, according to opposition politicians and attorneys, goes against the government’s professed policy of elevating women in a nation known for violence against them.
“The remission of the sentence of convicts of a gruesome crime like gang-rape and murder is morally and ethically improper,” said senior lawyer Anand Yagnik.
“What is the signal we are trying to send?”
Teesta Setalvad, a Gujarat riot activist, was detained.
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