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5 May 2017

Gang raped victim gets justice- Court finds Gujarat police and doctors guilty of shielding riot-day rapists when Narendra Modi was chief minister- Shame, to bear forever

TT and PTI, May 4: Gujarat police today stood indicted for "dishonest investigation" and "gagging the mouth" of Bilkis Bano, an expectant mother who was gang-raped in one of the most unspeakable acts of brutality during the riots of 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister.
Bombay High Court made the damning comments against Gujarat police while setting aside the acquittal of five policemen and two doctors who have been found guilty of attempts to save the accused and tampering with evidence.
The court upheld the convictions and life sentences handed to 12 people but rejected the CBI's appeal seeking the death penalty for three.
The verdict evoked from Bilkis a poignant statement with a contemporary element. She appealed to fellow citizens to help affirm secular values "at a time when we hear news every day of people being attacked and killed because of their religion or community".
Fifteen years ago on March 3, 2002, Bilkis, then aged 19 and five months pregnant, and her family had tried to escape a mob in the midst of the Gujarat carnage. Their truck was attacked and as many as 14 members of her family, including her two-year-old daughter, mother and cousin, were killed. Bilkis was gang-raped.
Bilkis Bano
She approached the police to register a case but was turned away. Threatened with dire consequences, she went to the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court. The apex court ordered the CBI probe and the transfer of the case to Maharashtra as the family continued to face threats in Gujarat.
Today, Bilkis said in the statement: "For officers of the state, whose sworn duty it is to protect citizens and enable justice, this should be their great moral shame to bear forever."
Bombay High Court noted that Bilkis was the only witness, and the prosecution's entire case stood on her testimony.
The bench of Justices V.K. Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar found Bilkis's testimony "completely trustworthy" while concluding that the probe conducted by the Gujarat police was "flawed with a dishonest investigation".
On the doctors, the court said: "It is evident that they were not only casual in conducting the post-mortem but suppressed the material information by way of omission."
The judgment added: "All the acts of commission and omission of the police and the medical officers cannot be examined in isolation but they are well connected with each other in a chain of suppression of facts causing disappearance of the evidence with intent to screen the offenders and save them from punishment."
"We will consider the period undergone in jail of these seven persons (the five policemen and the two doctors) as their sentence. But we will impose fine on them," the court said. Each of the seven was directed to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 within eight weeks.
The five policemen are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor and Ramanbhai Bhagora, and the doctors are Arun Kumar Prasad and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad.
"We are convinced that all these accused persons in a mob on account of the Godhra (train-burning) incident were moving in search of Muslims," said the high court. "This is a case where the police wanted to help the accused by suppressing their names. The police were not passive towards investigation but they were very active in destroying the case."
The judgment added: "They (the police) wanted to screen the perpetrators of the crime for the reasons best known to the police. This is how they gagged mouth of the prosecutrix (Bilkis) so that her cry for justice would not be heard by anybody."
Teesta Setalvad, who has been fighting for the victims of the communal violence through her organisation Citizen for Justice and Peace, noted that the court had set aside the acquittal of the five policemen.
Setalvad said she never supported the CBI's plea for the death penalty and lauded the court for dismissing it.
Kavita Krishnan, CPIML politburo member, welcomed the verdict, particularly because "conviction of cops is rarest of rare in our country".
Now Prime Minister, Modi congratulated winners of the national film awards and the top ten clean cities and expressed optimism on steel production through multiple tweets during the day. But the Prime Minister, who has been championing the cause of "Muslim sisters" of late, had not publicly offered Bilkis any words of solace or encouragement till late tonight.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted: " Kya Khamooshi Hai. Complete silence from those voices who were shouting against TT (triple talaq) but silence for Bilkis Bano. Will BJP & PM Modi walk the talk about rights of Muslim women for Justice to Bilkis Bano or rights only in relation to TT? Sheer hypocrisy."

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