BJP lawmaker in Gujarat says rapist-murderers of Muslim woman, family are good people
A leader of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) openly praised 11 Hindu men who were released three days ago despite being convicted of gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman and brutally murdering her family members during the anti-Muslim Gujarat violence of 2002.
In an interview published Thursday, Gujarat state BJP lawmaker C. K. Raulji praised the rapists as “Brahmins” who have “good sanskaar (religious values).”
“I don’t know whether they committed any crime or not… They were Brahmins and Brahmins are known to have good sanskaar. It might have been someone’s ill intention to corner and punish them,” Raulji told a reporter.
He further added that the convicts had “good behaviour” while in prison, where they served only 15 years out of their life sentences.
Opposition leaders have slammed the rapists’ release, including senior Congress party leader P. Chidambaram.
“Hours after the Prime Minister’s exhortation to people to respect women, his hand-picked Gujarat [government] grants remission of the remaining sentence to persons convicted of gang rape,” Chidambaram said.
“These 11 who are being welcomed with sweets were sentenced for life by the court but released by the govt for gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riot. They had also killed her 7 family members, including her 3yr daughter,” tweeted Ashok Swain, a prominent Indian academic and professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden.
The victim, Bilkis Bano, was attacked by a Hindu mob along with 16 other family members while fleeing Hindu extremist mob violence in her Gujarat village. Bano, who was five months pregnant, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted, along with her mother and other women in her family. Bano’s three-year-old daughter was killed when a Hindu extremist smashed her on the ground. Only three members of the family survived the attack, including Bano.
Muslim cleric slams Hindu extremist claim that Muslims are anti-India
Muslim scholar Maulana Arshad Madani slammed Hindu extremist claims that Muslims are anti-national and anti-India, saying that Muslims were at the forefront of the Indian independence movement against British colonialism.
“The freedom movement of India was started by the Ulama (Muslim scholars) and the Muslims; the first flag of rebellion against the British in India was raised by the Ulama,” he said during an event.
“The people who first gave the slogan of freedom, today the same people are called traitors. Muslims are being depicted [as traitors] all over the country today. How can someone whose elders gave freedom be a traitor?” he added.
Muslims have openly been labelled as anti-nationals by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, particularly during protests against the discriminatory anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act in 2020. BJP leaders encouraged their followers to “shoot the traitors to the nation,” resulting in violent mob lynchings of Muslims.
Court stops Government from attaching Journalist Rana Ayyub’s money
The Delhi High Court restrained the Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) from attaching the assets of Muslim journalist Rana Ayyub over Hindu extremist claims that Ayyub had engaged in money laundering. The order will stay in effect till the next date of hearing on November 17.
An online Hindu extremist group called the Hindu IT Cell had filed the baseless complaint against Ayyub, alleging that she had illegally collected money through Ketto, a popular crowdfunding website. The complaint had alleged that Ayyub received foreign funds without government approval.
Ayyub has faced constant Hindu extremist harassment as well as judicial harassment due to her vocal criticism of Modi, Hindu nationalism, and the BJP. In March, she was prevented from leaving the country to give a speech by Indian authorities. In February, she reported that she have received over 26,000 rape and death threats from Hindu extremists through social media.