Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly again as it emerged that the BJP government at the Centre — and not just the state of Gujarat — okayed the release of 11 men who raped a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, and killed her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“From the Red Fort, talk of respect for women; but in reality, standing with rapists,” Mr Gandhi tweeted, in Hindi, “The difference between the Prime Minister’s promise and intention is clear. PM has only cheated women.”
लाल किले से महिला सम्मान की बात लेकिन असलियत में ‘बलात्कारियों’ का साथ।
प्रधानमंत्री के वादे और इरादे में अंतर साफ है, PM ने महिलाओं के साथ सिर्फ छल किया है।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 18, 2022
PM Modi had called for women empowerment during his August 15 address. That happened to be the day when the 11 convicts, who’d got life terms, were released prematurely after serving about 15 years — concession for their “good behaviour”, as per the state government. They were welcomed with garlands and sweets by relatives and some Hindu right-wing outfits.
The Prime Minister Modi said in his Independence Day speech, “It is important that in speech and conduct, we do nothing that lowers the dignity of women… I have one request for every Indian: Can we change the mentality towards our women in everyday life?”
Documents have now revealed that both the Centre and Gujarat, where Narendra Modi was chief minister during the 2002 riots, fast-tracked the early release of the 11 convicts. The CBI, which probed the case, and the court that had given out the life sentence had objected but were ignored, say documents.
The release has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
The CBI had said the offence was “heinous, grave and serious” and deserved no leniency, while the Special Judge called it a “hate crime” that was “committed only on the ground that the victims belong to a particular religion”.
Bilkis Bano was 21 and pregnant when she was gang-raped by a mob that killed 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter.