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Bilkis asks Gujarat govt for security

Six years after the rape and assault, Bilkis Bano has asked the Gujarat government to reassure her and her family of security.

delhi Updated: Jan 21, 2008 14:22 IST


Six years after the traumatic incident of rape and assault and still living in fear, Bilkis Bano on Monday asked the Gujarat government to reassure her and her family of security.

"I and my family members are still living in fear. It is the duty of the Gujarat government to assure us of safety," Bilkis said in a press conference held in the Capital on Monday.

Twelve persons were convicted by a special court in Mumbai on Friday in the gang-rape case. One policeman was also convicted for lodging false FIR. Seven other accused were acquitted by the court. The quantum of sentence is to be pronounced on Monday.

Although she felt that justice was delivered in the case, she was also convinced that seven persons acquitted should also have been punished.

Those doctors and policemen who connived with the rioters should not go scott-free, she said.

"This judgement does not mean the end of hatred but it does mean that somewhere, somehow justice can prevail. I am ready to work closely with CBI in other cases too," she added.

"We would wish the Gujarat government to take up the appeal to a higher court to ensure the seven officers are also punished," Indira Jaisingh, lawyer and human rights activist, said.

Bilkis also expressed her "resolve to fight the case till complete justice is delivered".
In a reply to a query, Bilkis said the frequent flip-flop of Zahira Sheikh had "hurt the fight of innocent victims of Gujarat riots and has brought a bad name to the community."

Bilkis, who was six-month pregnant, was gang-raped during the communal violence that erupted in Gujarat after a coach of Sabarmati Express carrying Ramsevaks from Ayodhya was set on fire on February 27, 2002.

Bilkis was also a prime witness to the murder and rape of members of her family and community during the riots.

The trial was shifted from a court in Ahmedabad to Mumbai in August 2003 by the Supreme Court after the Central Bureau of Investigation and Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses in the case could be harmed if the trial was conducted in Gujarat.

The accused allegedly attacked 17 members of the minority community in their village, which resulted in the death of eight while six were reported missing. Bilkis was one among three who survived.

Six police officers were charged with shielding the guilty while two doctors were accused of fabricating evidence.