“I am still numb,” says Bilkis Bano after the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder of seven members of her family walked out of Godhra sub-jail as the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

“Two days ago, on August 15, the trauma of the past 20 years washed over me again. When I heard that the 11 convicted men who devastated my family and my life, and took from me my 3-year-old daughter, had walked free. I was bereft of words,” Bano said in a statement.
“Today, I can only say this – how can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice. My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts,” Bano added.
Criticising the action, she demanded that the Gujarat government reverse this injustice and restore her right to live without fear and in peace by claiming that no one had asked about her safety and well-being prior to making such an unjust decision. “No one enquired about my safety and well-being, before taking such a big and unjust decision. I appeal to the Gujarat Government, please undo this harm. Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace. Please ensure that my family and I are kept safe.”

On August 15, all 11 of the convicts who had been given life sentences in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gangrape case were released from the Godhra sub-jail.
On January 21, 2008, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai had sentenced the 11 defendants to life in prison on the charges of gangrape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. The Bombay High Court later upheld their conviction.
After serving more than 15 years in jail, one of these convicts petitioned the Supreme Court for an early release.
The Gujarat government was instructed by the apex court to investigate the possibility of reducing his sentence in accordance with its 1992 policy based on the date of his conviction. The administration then convened a committee and issued a decree permitting the early release of all the convicts.

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