A day after saying that Bilkis Bano’s rapists are Brahmins with good values, Gujarat MLA CK Raulji on Friday claimed that his statement was misconstrued and that caste had nothing to do with criminals.
“Rapists have nothing to do with castes and I have not said any such thing,” he said. “The statement is being construed in the wrong manner. A person, who is found to be guilty [of a crime], must be punished. We should respect the decision of the court.”
On Thursday, Raulji, who was part of the panel that recommended the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case, said that their conduct in jail was good. Raulji also said that in cases of communal violence, innocent persons are often targeted. He added that family members of the convicts were “honest”.
Bilkis Bano was gangraped on March 3, 2002, during the riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter, were murdered by the rioters near Ahmedabad. One of the men snatched the girl from her mother’s arms and smashed her head on a rock.
On Monday, 11 men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the ganagrape case were released from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy.
Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar said that the government considered their remission application as the convicts had served 14 years in jail as well as due to other factors such as “age, nature of the crime, [and] behaviour in prison”.
The decision to release them was based on the recommendation of a panel formed by the Gujarat government under the guidelines of the Supreme Court.
On Monday, the convicts were greeted with sweets by their relatives after their release. A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh felicitated them as well.