The Supreme Court on Monday set a two-week deadline for the Gujarat government to provide Rs 50 lakh compensation, work and accommodation to Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped when the 2002 Gujarat riots took place, NDTV reported. The court has set down a petition by Gujarat to review its April order which made the same suggestions.

The Gujarat government has informed the Supreme Court that there is a compensation system already in the state. But the court replied saying the Gujarat government did not fulfil its earlier compensation directives.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Supreme Court set a two-week deadline for the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh in compensation to Bilkis Bano.
  • She was gang-raped during the Godhra riots.
  • The Gujarat government had not implemented the compensation scheme already in place in the state.
  • Eleven men were convicted on January 21, 2008, for raping Bilkis and murdering 14 of her family members.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano‘s family was assaulted by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots. Bilkis, five months pregnant at that time, was gang-raped, and many members of her family were murdered. During the riots, 14 members of Bilkis’ family were killed, including her two-and-half-year old daughter who was grabbed from her mother’s arms and smashed on a rock.

A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bilkis and murdering 14 of her members of the family. But seven persons were acquitted, as well as policemen and doctors involved in the case.

Read Also: BJP’s Nupur Sharma In Dock For Passing Off 2002 Godhra Pics For Bengal Riots

Credits: The Hindu; Bilkis with her youngest daughter

15-year long wait for justice

TOI reported that it was the fourth day after Godhra incident, in which 59 people were burnt to death when they were attacked by a mob on February 27, 2002. .

Bano’s family was moving in a truck. They found themselves under attack from a mob of about 30-35 rioters near Randhikpur village in Dahod district. 14 people were killed. Her two-year-old daughter, Saleha’s head had been smashed on a rock.

After which, Bilkis was gang-raped and brutalised. Govind Nai, Jaswant Nai and Shailesh Bhatt were named as the perpetrators.

Bilkis Bano then approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and also petitioned the Supreme Court. The apex court heard the matter and also sought response from the NHRC.

The fight back by Bilkis Bano

In her statement, Bilkis Bano said that she found herself naked and saw dead bodies of her family members lying around. Frightened she looked around for some clothes to cover herself. Then she took refuge in the nearby hills. Bilkis Bano stayed with a tribal family there, as cited by India Today.

She is an illiterate woman who was not economically well off. But, she gathered courage to approach the police and lodge a complaint. However one year later, police cited inconsistencies in her statements and the magistrate closed the case for lack of evidence.

Bilkis Bano then approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and also petitioned the Supreme Court. The apex court heard the matter and also sought response from the NHRC.

Read Also: Pay Rs 50 Lakh As Compensation To Bilkis Bano: SC Directs Gujarat Govt

Trial in Bilkis Bano case

The NHRC backed Bilkis Bano’s petition in the Supreme Court, which, in December 2003, ordered a CBI inquiry into the case. In January 2004, the CBI arrested all the accused.

The Supreme Court in August 2004 shifted the trial of Bilkis Bano case from Gujarat to Mumbai. After four years, the trial court in Mumbai found 13 of 20 accused guilty.

She kept receiving threats so she changed her residence as many as 20 times in two years. She later filed a plea in the Supreme Court for transfer of the case outside Gujarat. The Supreme Court in August 2004 shifted the trial of Bilkis Bano case from Gujarat to Mumbai. After four years, the trial court in Mumbai found 13 of 20 accused guilty.

The Bilkis Bano case became the first case of rape linked to riots in which conviction happened since Independence.

Since then, the CBI challenged the trial court in the Bombay High Court to enhance punishment for rape and murder, and acquittal of seven who were accused. Delivering its verdict, the Bombay High Court rejected the plea.

Read Also: Kushinagar Minor Girl Gang Raped In Front Of Parents

Image: News18

Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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