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Bilkis Bano Case : Hypocrisy of Liberals to the Fore…

Bilkis Bano… readers, this case is not new to us anymore. Hence, it would be irrelevant to go through it again. The 12 accused in the case having obtained relief has now turned into a controversy. Many liberal ‘intellectuals’ are jumping in this case for no reason posing as heroes, leaving their important other works aside. They are neither worried for poor Bilkis nor are they concerned with those 12 men. Of course, no crime can be justifiable, let alone as grave as a rape. But when…? Only when the crime actually takes place…!

There is nothing surprising here. This is certainly not an effort to tell the whole truth of this case. Neither is it an exertion in scribbling something under the pressure of any political party because none of us was at the place of incident when it actually happened. Hence, none can say that the crime did take place nor can anyone say it didn’t. However, the way innumerable liberals are expressing their opinion with all their might on the possibility of crime actually having taken place, nothing should stop us from glancing at some possibilities that crime did not happen.

Bilkis Bano, along with Teesta Setalvad and her coteries alleged that 12 men gang-raped her, a five-month pregnant woman and killed her three-year old daughter by banging her head on stone, after the Godhra massacre and the riots that followed it. In the past, inquiry has been ordered against Teesta Setalvad for trapping innocent Hindus through fraudulent witnesses and documents in the Gulmarg Society and Best Bakery cases during riots in Gujarat after the massacre as well as for running slanderous campaign against then Gujarat government. Gujarat police have arrested Teesta Setalvad as per the court orders and started investigation against her.

Even though, the Supreme Court gave its verdict in two cases, it has to be conceded that all the incidents during those times were built through fraudulent witnesses and evidences. This is why, one is left with no other option but to accept that even Bilkis Bano case was also a figment of imagination, no such incident took place and all this drama was enacted by Setalvad.

The following points help to prove this :

  1. Raees Khan, a close aide of Teesta Setalvad during that time, had openly given interviews to TV channels and described how Teesta was instructing the complainants and witnesses to give false testimonies.
  2. Police Sub Inspector I. A. Sayyad was accused that he conspired to help these 12 accused men in the alleged rape against Bilkis. Can it be possible that a Muslim police officer would help 12 Hindus in raping a Muslim woman and kill her daughter?
  3. Bilkis testified total three times in this case before the investigation agencies and all three testimonies are different. Thus, there is ample space to believe that no such incident took place at all.
  4. According to Bilkis, her daughter named Saleh was snatched from her hands and killed by banging her on stone. However, the surprising thing that since the incident alleged took place, viz. since 2002, Bilkis Bano never said anything about her daughter till start of the CBI investigation in 2004.
  5. Bilkis Bano says that she told a total of 21 persons about the killing of her daughter during those two years. However, all those 21 persons testified on oath before the judges that Bilkis Bano never told them about this incident.

Now the question arises that why these 12 accused never tried to raise voice if they had never committed the crime? The one important reason was that unfortunately, the case was transferred to Maharashtra from Gujarat. A bizarre thing happened for the first time in the country wherein distrust was shown in the judicial system in a state. Later on, the Sessions Court and High Court convicted them literally with much effort. One or two of the accused approached the Supreme Court against the conviction but their appeals were rejected there also. Hence, there was no question of appeals by other accused.

Obviously then, unfortunately, the verdict of High Court proved to the final. Initially, Gujarat police were investigating the case, but after the distrust was shown in them, the case was handed over to CBI in April 2004 through the court order. The CBI started its investigation but it soon went astray. The objective of that investigation was to trap the accused which was successful.

Relief for Accused from Punishment

The modern society emphasises on reforming the criminals. Hence, the Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has the provision of exemptions/concessions. A person is eligible for exemption under this section if he has served imprisonment for more than 14 years. All of them have completed this condition by serving 18 years of imprisonment.

Vivek Dubey, the CBI investigating officer in the Bilkis Bano case, asserted that the behaviour of the accused in jail was highly commendable, so it was obvious that they had been released.

IPC Section 432

This section is applicable to all offences. This applies even to murder and rape. A section of law is superior to any government policy. In such matters the decision of the State/Centre is final and the Courts can interfere within a very limited scope. Also, this decision has only given remission in punishment, not forgiveness of punishment. Hon. Supreme Court, while giving an order in the petition of one of these convicts, clarified that the decision to grant exemption from punishment should be taken by the Gujarat government and not by the Maharashtra government. Accordingly, the decision was taken after following all the legal procedures, in which there is nothing wrong. Of course, the exemption from punishment in this case is a decision taken by following a purely legal process.

Gujarat High Court criminal lawyer Anwar Hussain Shaikh has taken a serious notice of the criticism of the Gujarat state government in this case and has said in a public interview that this criticism is contempt of the honorable court.

Getting Relief from Punishment is not Unprecedented

* Perarivelan, one of the convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was recently released from life imprisonment on the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly under this very section.

* The crime committed by actor Sanjay Dutt was also Very serious. Arms involved in the terrorist activities in the country were found in his possession. Still, he was given relief under this section.

* The liberals here had also demanded to turn the death sentence of Yakub Menon in life imprisonment.

* The then Congress government had invited many who committed genocide of Hindus in Kashmir and Punjab to important functions with honour.

On this background, is the relief given to these 12 accused so important that even informed people like us are discussing it so widely. All this fuss is being made only because Bilkis case is related to Hindus and Gujarat. There is no doubt that the hypocrisy of the liberal intellectuals in the country has been exposed through this.

Ashwini Tembe 

Kolhapur

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