The aftermath of a riot leaves society with wounds that never heal. Similar happened with a gang-rape victim Bilkis Bano when two decades old wounds were scraped. The remission of eleven accused in the rape and murder case created havoc in the ever-victimized community.
This case happened during the 2002 Godhra riots where the original number of victims is still a mystery, while the official number suggests about 1000 people succumbed to the riot. Godhra riots were one of the most horrific communal riots after the Moplah riots. About 57 Hindu pilgrims and karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive in Godhra.
As a rebuttal of the incident, Gujarat burned as communal riots broke out in the state. The most discussed and controversial case after the riots was about Bilkis Bano. As per multiple reports, Bilkis, a five-month pregnant lady was gang-raped by 11 people who also allegedly killed her family. The accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in the year 2008.
According to Section 432(7) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the appropriate government can review the sentences of offenders and remit them as per the law. It’s not the first time that any state government has remitted any offender. Since 2020, several state governments across India have remitted the sentences of more than 1,100 prisoners many of which were serious offenders.
India is a ‘Secular’ country, that is often seen prioritizing victims from special communities of the country. There were times when the supreme court was held at the stroke of midnight for terrorists that created unrest in the country. Indian judiciary has upheld that ‘Every Sinner Has A Future.’ When petitions can be filed to forgive terrorists like Ajmal Kasab or Afzal Guru, so why remission of these 11 Hindu accused creates havoc in society? Though, each of the accused has spent more than 11 years of their sentence in prison without any remission.
On 19th August 2022, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commented on the remission of the accused stating that “The failure to hold accountable perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat Riots who committed physical & sexual violence is a travesty of justice. It’s part of a pattern of impunity in India for those engaged in violence against religious minorities.”
In a country that is said to be a superpower in the world, an American faces sexual assault every sixty-eight seconds. With a rape crime rate of more than 27% the superpower seems to be lawless when it comes to the conviction of these criminals. As per a report, most of the accused walk free within 24 hours after a complaint is filed.
Statistically speaking, every 16 minutes a sexual crime is committed in India. About 19.8 women out of 1,00,000 face sexual assault in the country, which is quite low given the population of India. Comparing any crime rate without considering the per capita seems factually senseless.
What is more disturbing is that the comment specifically states that minorities aren’t safe in India, whether by the judiciary or the government. Media houses like New York Times and Washington Post work by the second to portray India as Islamophobe and a nightmare for the minority. While the reality is quite the contrary. Compared to any Islamic nation, minorities are proven to be quite safe in India.
Commenting about Indian women and culture, Media houses like NY Times and Washington Post often tend to forget the problems of an average American woman. In the recent ongoing abortion row, an American court ruled that a sixteen-year-old isn’t mature enough to have an abortion but can take care of a baby. The petitioner had said that she wasn’t able to focus on her school and didn’t have any means to raise the baby.
About ten American states have banned women’s rights to abortion leading the superpower in radical times. With deep-rooted issues like police brutality, racism, gun violence, teenage pregnancy, sexual crimes, drug abuse, and more, the US and liberal media critics often forget to look under the rug.
The noise-makers in this particular case, choose to go deaf in several cases that fit their agendas. It’s not the first time the Indian judiciary has granted remission to someone who committed a heinous crime. Even the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were remitted after spending three decades in prison.
There is no justification for any crime, more so crime against women but communalizing it to create a mirage of insecurity in the so-called minority is unacceptable. Human Rights activists who create a mess for the rights of terrorists, go dumb when the accused doesn’t fit their criteria. As the Indian judiciary states, Every Sinner Has A Future, but remember conditions apply!