In a ground-breaking judgment, the Supreme Court has directed Gujarat government to pay Rs. 50 lakh compensation to gang-rape survivor of post-Godhra riot survivor, Bilkis Bano. Bano was 21 years old then and she had a three-year-old daughter who was murdered during the riots. The SC also instructed the Gujarat government to provide Bano with a government job and accommodation as per rules.

The apex Court on March 29 had given the Gujarat state government two weeks to complete disciplinary action against police officials found guilty by the trial court and the Bombay High Court in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, Business Standard reported. Bano was earlier offered five lakh rupees interim compensation by the Gujarat government which she had declined and filed a plea for exemplary compensation.

It was in 2017 that the Bombay High Court upheld the life sentence given by a trial court to 11 convicted in the case. It also reserved the acquittal of others accused in the case, including the Gujarat police officers and doctors from a government hospital held guilty of tampering with the evidence, Indian Express reported.

“I wish to say to all my fellow Indian citizens, my fellow Gujaratis, my fellow Muslims, and to women everywhere – I am grateful that this verdict delivered by the honourable judges, has, yet again, vindicated my truth, and upheld my faith in the judiciary,” Bilkis Yakub Rasool said in a press statement after Thursday’s verdict. “My rights, as a human being, as a citizen, woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner, but I have trusted in the democratic institutions of our country. Now, my family and I feel we can begin to lead our lives again, free of fear.”

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The trial court in 2008 had convicted the 11 persons accused in the gang rape case of Bilkis Bano and in the murder of 14 members of her family including her daughter. Bano was also pregnant with a child when the gang rape happened. The Crime Bureau of India (CBI) had appealed for death penalty for prime convicts Jaswantbai Nai, Govindbhai Nai and Radhesham Shah who planned and executed the gang rape and murder.

The SC also instructed the Gujarat government to provide Bano with a government job and accommodation as per rules.

While all her family members succumbed to the savagery, only Bano and her brother and her two relatives, Saddam and Husain, survived. Among those killed were her mother, sister, minor daughter and other relatives.

During the communal violence of 2002 that engulfed Saurashtra, several Muslim families were murdered and those who survived were moving to safer places. Bano’s was one such family of 17 moving in a truck when a mob of about 30-35 rioters near Randhikpur village in Dahod district not very far from Ahmedabad attacked them.

Picture credit- Pic by Indian Express

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