The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) released a statement condemning the release of 11 convicts who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape and murder case.
"PUDR strongly deplores this politically motivated release of 11 convicts and believes that the institutions of justice should not be subverted by such a blatant show of political expediency," their statement said.
The PUDR also questioned the eligibility criteria on which these convicts were released and pointed out how the committee set up by the state government for remission policy consisted of five people holding key positions within the party's Gujarat unit.
On 15 August, 11 men walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the government of Gujarat approved their release under its remission policy. These men allegedly belonged to the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai had sentenced the accused to life imprisonment in 2008 on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family.
PUDR report also said, "Why did the committee choose this case of 11 individuals? Since they had been convicted for heinous crimes, what steps has the committee, and the state government, taken to ensure protection to the survivors of the said crimes? This is particularly important as per a directive issued by the Home Department of the Gujarat Government in 2014, it is clearly stated (in its annexure) that those accused of murder and rape cannot be considered eligible for pre-mature release. In the present instance, all 11 had been convicted for murder and gang rape."
It also added that this release was a step that was politically motivated based on communal, casteist, and misogynist concerns.