Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
In her first statement after the release of 11 men, including those convicted of gang raping her and murdering 14 members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots, Bilkis Bano on Wednesday, 17 August, said, "I was bereft of words. I am still numb. Today, I can say only this – how can justice for any woman end like this?
In a statement released by her lawyer, Bano said, "Two days ago, on August 15, 2022 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."
The 11 men sentenced to life imprisonment were welcomed with sweets outside the Godhra sub-jail on Monday, 15 August, after the government of Gujarat approved their early release under its remission policy.
Stating that the move has taken away her faith from India's justice system, she said, "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."
She further said, "My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in courts."
"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," she added.