The horrors and wounds of twenty years ago are burning again in her mind. The day of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav became for her the day of ‘losing faith in justice’ and language. Giving back the right to live in peace without fear, she is appealing to the Gujarat government.
On August 15, the 11 people who gang-raped Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant in February 2002, were released from jail in Gujarat. Her three-year-old daughter was killed in front of her eyes. They ‘murdered’ a total of eight members of her family. The 11 people sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 got a taste of freedom on August 15. And Bilkis is again surrounded by fear and despair.
Statement from Bilkis
Twenty years ago, Bilkis was 21. Now 41. After this unexpected plot change, she first opened her mouth to the media on Wednesday. She said, her faith in justice has been shaken. Said, “Two days ago on the 15th of August, the terror of the past twenty years came over me again, when I heard that the eleven men who had destroyed my life, my family, were released. I lost my language. I am still dumb.”
Desperation dripped into every word of Bilkis’s statement. She said, “I had faith in the apex court, faith in the system, little by little I was learning to live with my wounds. The acquittal of the convicts took away my peace, and my faith in justice was shaken. I’m not just talking about me. I feel for all the girls who are fighting for justice in court.”
Bilkis’s husband’s words
Bilkis’s husband Yakub Rasul also says, “Eighteen years of struggle ended in one moment. We are very scared. We don’t know what to do.” Still don’t understand whether to change residence. However, Bilkis has requested the Gujarat government to change its decision. She wrote, “Don’t do us this harm. Give us back the right to live a life of peace that is without fear.” But the real picture of Gujarat does not show much hope that her appeal will bear fruit.
On the one hand, the Gujarat administration is showing the details of the law, on the other hand, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is welcoming the rapists with garlands and sweets. A section of the opposition political camp feels that, from the looks of it, 2002 is no longer a ‘taint’ for the BJP. Teesta Setalvad went to jail. The vote is ahead. Rehabilitating 2002 ‘Veer’ is now the new polarizing card. According to the opposition, taking away the right to live in peace is the elixir of freedom for women like Bilkis.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi yesterday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “The rapists of a five-month pregnant woman and the killers of her three-year-old daughter have been released from jail on Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Those who speak falsely about women’s power, what message are they sending to the women of the country? Prime Minister, the whole country can see the difference between your words and actions.”