‘Brahmins, good sanskar’: BJP MLA on Bilkis rapists
CK Raulji was one of the two BJP MLAs —the other being Sumanben Chauhan from Kalol — who were part of the 11-member jail advisory committee of the district that unanimously recommended remission for the convicts, which was then acted on by the Gujarat government on August 15.
New Delhi: A fresh controversy erupted on Thursday after Bharatiya Janata Party’s legislator from Gujarat’s Godhra district claimed that the 11 men who recently walked out of the jail after their premature release in the 2002 case of Bilkis Bano’s gang rape and murder of her seven family members during the riots were “Brahmin” and had “good sanskar” (values).
CK Raulji, the Godhra legislator, was one of the two BJP MLAs —the other being Sumanben Chauhan from Kalol — who were part of the 11-member jail advisory committee of the district that unanimously recommended remission for the convicts, which was then acted on by the Gujarat government on August 15.
Raulji told the newsportal Mojo Story on Thursday that the decision of the committee was unanimous. “I did not know Bilkis Bano... After speaking to the jailer, it did not seem like they would have created a ruckus in jail.”
The MLA also suggested that the convicts could have been “framed intentionally”. “I don’t know whether they committed the crime or not. But their conduct was good; the activity of the family was very good. They are Brahmins. Their sanskar (values) were very good,” Raulji claimed.
Then 21-year-old, Bilkis Bano was five months pregnant when she was gang raped as she and her family were attempting to flee the violence in the 2002 Godhra riots, and her three-year-old daughter was one of the seven murdered.
The 11 convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in 2008, and after serving 15 years in jail, one of them —Radheshyam Shah —approached the courts asking for remission. The Supreme Court in April 2022 then directed that the committee consider their remission under the Gujarat government 1992 remission policy, in place when the conviction took place. A 2014 policy from the state government would have kept the convicts out of the realm of remission, with stipulations that those convicted by a CBI court could not be considered for early release among others.
The jail advisory committee that considered the remission plea is headed by the district magistrate, and has the superintendent of police, the jail superintendent of Godhra prison, the district social welfare officer, and the Godhra sessions court judge. The 11-member panel also had on it, the two BJP MLAs and three other social workers, who also allegedly have connections to the party.
Raulji’s comments were strongly condemned by various opposition parties. Congress MP and party general secretary in-charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted: “Do the ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi subscribe to this bizarre view?”
Y Satish Reddy, social media convener of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) said, “They are Brahmins, Men of Good Sanskaar. Their conduct in jail was good: BJP MLA #CKRaulji BJP now terms rapists as ‘Men of Good Sanskar’. This is the lowest a party can ever stoop!”
Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “This is PM Modi’s “nari shakti” agenda. Gang-rape & child murder are “good sanskar”. It is BJP’s policy to stand by rapists, whether in Gujarat or Kathua. BJP is giving “get out of jail free passes” on caste lines.”
The Gujarat BJP refused to comment on the issue till late on Thursday night.
On Wednesday, Bano issued a statement saying she was bereft of words, and appealed to the Gujarat government to “undo this harm”. “How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice,” she said in a statement through her advocate Shobha Gupta.
Meanwhile, a group of 6,000 social activists — including Syeda Hameed, Devaki Jain, Uma Chakravarti, Subhashini Ali, Kavita Krishnan and Shabnam Hashmi — asked for the decision to be withdrawn. In a joint statement, they said: “The remission of sentences for the 11 men convicted of gang-rape and mass murder will have a chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, and ‘have faith’.”
(WITH PTI INPUTS)