A Muslim woman protested the release of her 11 rapists in India: “Give me back my right to live without fear”

Activists chant slogans against government-authorized sentence reduction for convicted gang rape perpetrators (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) (Altaf Qadri/)

A Muslim woman who suffered a gang rape when pregnant during the devastating religious violence of 2002 in India has called on the government to rescind its decision to release the 11 men who had been sentenced to life in prison for the crimeafter they were released with suspended sentences.

The victim, now in her forties, was pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in the 2002 religious violence in the western state of Gujarat, where some 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in one of the worst religious riots on record. in India since it gained independence from Britain in 1947. Seven relatives of the woman, including her three-year-old daughter, were killed in the riots..

Bilkis Bano and two of his sons were the only survivors of a group of 17 Muslims attacked by a Hindu mob. in the western state of Gujarat in 2002. The attack took place when the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was Prime Minister of the state of Gujarat.

The 11 men freed on Monday, as India celebrated 75 years of independence, had been convicted in 2008 of rape, murder and unlawful assembly.

Activists participate in a protest against the remission of sentence by the government to convicts of a gang rape, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. A Muslim woman who was gang raped while pregnant during India's devastating 2002 religious riots has appealed to the government to rescind its decision to free the 11 men who had been jailed for life for committing the crime, after they were released on suspended sentences.  The 11 men, released on Monday when India celebrated 75 years of independence, were convicted in 2008 of rape, murder and unlawful assembly.  (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
The 11 men were released Monday during India’s 75th anniversary celebrations (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) (Altaf Qadri/)

The victim said the Gujarat state government’s decision had shocked her and shaken her faith in justice.

“How can justice for a woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts of our land”, he said Wednesday night in a statement. No representative of the authorities contacted her before making the decision, she said. “Please undo this damage. Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace”.

Dozens of women protested Thursday against the men’s release in the capital New Delhi.

Raj Kumar, additional chief secretary of Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rules, told the daily Indian Express that the inmates’ application had been accepted because they had completed 14 years in prison. A state government committee made the decision after considering other factors such as his age and behavior in jail.

Kumar said they were eligible for the 1992 sentence reduction rule in effect when they were sentenced. A more modern version, adopted in 2014 by the federal government, prohibits sentence reduction for offenders of crimes such as rape and murder.

The unrest has long cast a shadow over Modi, who was Gujarat’s top elected official at the time, amid accusations that the authorities turned a blind eye, allowed and even encouraged bloodshed. Modi has repeatedly denied having played any role, and the Supreme Court has said it found no evidence to prosecute him.. He was acquitted of any wrongdoing in 2012, two years before he became leader of this Hindu-majority nation of 200 million Muslims.

Videos posted on social media showed the men being greeted with sweets and garlands after being released from prison. Women, rights activists and opposition politicians expressed their outrage.

Opposition lawmaker Rahul Gandhi criticized Modi on Twitter, asking what kind of message he was sending to women in India from a government that says it wants to empower women. “The whole country sees the difference between your words and your actions“, he claimed.

“The BJP’s bias in favor of one religion is such that even brutal rapes and hate crimes are forgivable,” said prominent Muslim politician Asaduddin Owaisi, referring to Modi’s Hindu nationalist party.

According to official figures, around 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were stabbed, beaten, shot or burned to death in the riots, which erupted after 59 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire wrongly blamed on a mob. muslim.

(With information from AP and AFP)


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