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Bilkis Bano case: Oppn parties hail verdict as 'restoration of justice', accuse BJP govt of 'helping' convicts

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) Opposition parties on Monday hailed the Supreme Court verdict in the Bilkis Bano case as "restoration of justice" and accused the BJP government of aiding the premature release of the convicts, with the Congress demanding an apology from the ruling party.

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Parties like the TMC, CPI-M, IUML, National Conference and the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) alleged that the BJP government "misused" its powers to give remission to 11 men, convicted of raping Bilkis Bano and murdering seven members of her family during the 2002 riots, for political gains.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge claimed the verdict quashing the remission granted to the convicts exposes the "misdeeds" of the Home Ministry and the Gujarat Government and shows how the BJP can deny justice to a woman only to win elections.

"'Save the daughter' became 'Save the culprit'! The decision of the Supreme Court in the Bilkis Bano case is the restoration of justice. It exposes the misdeeds of the Home Ministry of the Modi Government and the Gujarat Government," he posted in Hindi on X.

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Soon after the judgement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the verdict has shown once again who the "protector of criminals" is.

In a post in Hindi on 'X', Gandhi said, "The tendency to 'murder justice' for electoral gains is dangerous for a democratic system.

"Today, the Supreme Court's decision once again showed the country who gives 'patronage to criminals'." Bilkis Bano's tireless struggle symbolises the victory of justice against the arrogant BJP government," the former Congress chief added.

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Lauding the verdict, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) said it is a slap on the BJP's face.

In a post on X after the court verdict, the TMC said it "lays bare" the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) indifference to women.

"The Supreme Court's ruling quashing the release of 11 rapists of Bilkis Bano by Gujarat Govt lays bare BJP's utter indifference to women.

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"It is a slap on the face of the BJP which facilitated the release of these criminals and glorified the convicts. Justice will always prevail over political agendas," the TMC said.

Party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the court verdict as "strong and bold".

"I am grateful to the Supreme Court for this strong and bold judgment. It proves that the rapists were moving freely and enjoying power," she said at Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

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Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the court has shown the mirror to the BJP.

"The process adopted by the ruling BJP in protecting rapists and their premature release, now they are not getting any place to hide their faces.

"All the 'jumlas' of the BJP stand exposed and the real face of BJP has come out. Despite being in jail, all these culprits were given a lot of facilities by the BJP's central and state governments. But sins cannot be hidden or done away with for long," Singhvi alleged.

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He also said that on July 11, 2022, "the Ministry of Home Affairs had given its sanction and concurrence for the premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case." The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also called the verdict a "hard slap" on the face of the state government and the "nailing down the Gujarat government's illegal action".

"Governments are constitutional entities and if they act in violation of the jurisdiction and considerations of law, it will play havoc with our very existence as a democracy," the party said.

Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party said, "Today, Bilkis Bano finally got justice.

"The remission decision exposes BJP's stand to talk about Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, blowing the trumpet of bringing Women's Reservation Bill on one hand and shielding the people who unleash atrocities on women on the other hand." National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah said the SC order will be implemented to provide justice to the victim.

"The Supreme Court has taken a very good decision and I want to congratulate the apex court for it as the decision (of the Gujarat government) was wrong," Abdullah said.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) said the order strengthens the people's faith in the judiciary.

IUML's National General Secretary P K Kunhalikutty said the Supreme Court's decision rectified an error.

Mahila Congress chief Alka Lamba said when the prime minister was giving a speech on the Amrit Mahotsav on Independence from the Red Fort on 15 August 2022, the rapists of Bilkis Bano were being released in Gujarat.

"After this decision of the Supreme Court, PM Modi and BJP leaders should apologise to crores of daughters of the country because the BJP stands exposed today," she said.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said justice has ultimately prevailed.

Party MP Shashi Tharoor said that it will remain a "bloodstained blot on the Gujarat government that it illegally releases these convicts and that a BJP leader justified it on the grounds that they were Brahmins!" PTI TEAM SKC RT RT

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