Dec 16 gang rape verdict: Bilkis Bano wants death penalty for her rapists too
Hours after the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for the four rape accused in the December 16 gang rape case, Bilkis Bano also demanded the same punishment for those who gang-raped her and killed 14 members of the family during the Gujarat riots of 2002.
“If we have to fight more, we will. We also want to get the same justice,” Bano told HT over the phone on Friday.
A day earlier, the Bombay high court had refused to hand down the death penalty to three of the 11 people convicted of raping her. Instead, the court upheld the life sentences for all 11 accused persons, besides convicting 5 policemen and two doctors of complicity.
Bilkis’ husband Yakub said that the court has given the death penalty in the December 16 gang rape as well as other rape cases which will act as a deterrent to future crimes. “No other woman in India should have to face such a ghastly crime. It will act as a deterrent to future crimes – irrespective of their religion,” he said.
The couple said they will consult the lawyers for their future course of action.
Bano hit the national headlines after she was gang-raped while fleeing the post-Godhra riots with her family. They were waylaid by a mob who then gang-raped the five-months pregnant Bano and killed 14 members of her family. Bano’s three-year-old daughter was among those killed.
Bano, however, expressed satisfaction over Thursday’s conviction of the policemen and doctors who had been acquitted earlier. “I am very happy that the court has recognised their culpability. Since they have already served some jail time, they will not to go to jail but at least they will lose their government jobs and benefits,” she said.
“This has been a long, seemingly never ending struggle for me, but when you are on the side of truth, you will be heard, and justice will be yours in the end,” Bano said in a statement after the Bombay high court verdict.