IAMC welcomes India’s Supreme Court order quashing release of 2002 Gujarat pogrom rapists - IAMC

IAMC welcomes India’s Supreme Court order quashing release of 2002 Gujarat pogrom rapists

Washington, D.C. (January 8, 2024) –The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a prominent advocacy organization committed to promoting justice, pluralism, and the civil rights of Indian Americans, has welcomed India’s Supreme Court order quashing the remission granted to 11 Hindu extremists involved in Bilkis Bano gangrape case.

These extremists had been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the heinous gang rape of Bano and the brutal murder of seven members of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom. Shockingly, these convicts were released by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led state government in August 2022, citing their ‘good behavior’ in prison.

In December 2022, Bano challenged this release in the Supreme Court, which subsequently ordered all freed convicts to surrender to the authorities in Gujarat within two weeks.

“Their plea for protection of their liberty is rejected. To keep them out would not be in consonance of the rule of law,” a bench comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said on Monday, January 8.

“Power to grant remission is ultimately an exercise of discretion by the authority. The test is whether the authority was acting within the scope of powers and whether it was exercised in accordance with law. There is arbitrariness if there is non-consideration of relevant factors, non-application of mind, acting on dictation, or any usurpation of power,” Justice Nagarathna added.

Back in 2002, Bano, aged 21, faced a horrific attack by a Hindu mob alongside 16 other family members while fleeing mob violence in her Gujarat village. Bano —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.  

The 2002 Gujarat pogroms were orchestrated by Hindu extremist groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) during Narendra Modi’s tenure as the state’s Chief Minister. Eyewitness accounts tell chilling stories of children force-fed petrol and set on fire, pregnant women having their babies ripped from their wombs and thrown into flames, families being electrocuted in their homes, and women being stripped, violated with objects, and beaten to death. This prolonged spree of violence resulted in the deaths of over 2000 people, primarily Muslims.

“We applaud the Supreme Court’s resolute action in overturning the release of the convicts linked to the abhorrent 2002 Gujarat pogrom. This decision reaffirms the supremacy of justice over impunity. Upholding the rule of law is paramount, and this ruling is a step towards justice for Bano and her family,” said IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed.

“We implore the judiciary to exhibit the same commitment to justice by addressing cases of individuals unjustly incarcerated under false pretexts, including prisoners of conscience, activists, journalists, academics, and critics,” Ahmed added.

 For media inquiries, please contact: media.info@iamc.com