Skip to main content

State stands convicted: Gujarat riots gang-rape victim Bilkis Bano on "historic" SC verdict

Counterview Desk
In what is being described as a “historic day for women’s rights and state accountability”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the Gujarat government should give Bilkis Bano, a gang rape victim during the 2002 communal riots, should be given exemplary compensation of Rs 50 lakh, a job and a house for she suffered.
Senior activists (Farah Naqvi, Dipta Bhog, Gagan Sethi, Madhavi Kuckreja, Malini Ghose and Huma Khan), who stood by her, claimed on Thursday in Delhi at a media conference, in which Bilkis Bano and her husband Yakub Khan were present, that this is “for the first time in India a compensation of this magnitude has been awarded to a survivor of gang-rape and mass murder during communal and targeted violence.”
Bilkis Bano said in a statement, “I kept my faith in the Constitution and in my rights as a citizen, and the Supreme Court has stood with me. For that I am truly grateful to the honorable judges.”
Speaking about her 17 year long struggle for justice and seeking accountability from the State, she said, “It has been a journey of a million steps, first seeking criminal conviction of those who destroyed my life, my child, my entire family.”
She added, “But today the state has been convicted in a court of morals and constitutional principles. The Supreme Court’s order to me is not about the money. It is about the signal it has sent to the State and to each citizen of this country. We have rights that no state can be allowed to violate.”
On what she planned to do with the money, she said she wanted to finally give her children a stable life, perhaps see her eldest daughter grow up into a lawyer who can defend others.
“I also want to use part of the money to help other women survivors of hate and communal violence seek justice. I want to help educate their children, in whose lives the spirit of my daughter Saleha will live on,” said Bilkis, with her husband Yakub by her side.

Text of Bilkis Bano’s statement:

My friends in the media, my fellow citizens, my fellow Gujaratis, my fellow Muslims, and women everywhere; for 17 years I have kept my faith with my conscience, my Constitution and my judiciary. And today the honorable Supreme Court has let me know it stands with me.
It understood my pain, my suffering and my struggle to regain the constitutional rights that were lost to me in the violence of 2002. No citizen should have to suffer at the hands of the state whose duty it is to protect us. They must pay for their enormous lapse of all morality in those hate-filled days and nights. This is the message for them, that I hear in this order. And that is good and that is right.
As a victim, I suppressed all dreams. As a vindicated survivor, they are boundless. And they are mostly for children, mine and others. I will use this money to educate my children and give them a stable life. My eldest daughter who wants to be a lawyer, will perhaps appear before the same court some day, to argue for justice to others. This is my prayer.
But I have always said, my victory is also on behalf of the many other women, who suffered, and who never managed to reach the courts. I wish to use a part of this money to help other women survivors of communal violence, in their journeys to justice; and to help educate their children.
I want to do this in the name of our first born, our daughter Saleha. Her body was lost in the tide of hatred that swept over my Gujarat in 2002. Yakub and I were unable to fulfill our duty as parents, and give her a proper burial. There is no grave for Saleha that I could visit and weep upon.
That has haunted me, in ways I can never express. But her spirit has been with me. I know she is up there, somewhere, and through helping others, she will live on in the lives of other children.
I pray today that the spirit of the victims like her, the courage of survivors, the struggles of ordinary citizens, and the democratic institutions of India will come together again and again, and end the hate and fear that is gripping our country.
I thank the Honorable Court. I thank my lawyer advocate Shobha, who has stood unflinchingly for my rights since 2003. I am deeply grateful for their hand of trust, in such untrusting times.
My journey has a history that I do not forget. The National Human Rights Commission, so many years ago, believed me. The CBI re-investigated my case with honesty and impartiality. Harish Salve was the first senior lawyer to take a stand for me. They are part of my journey, and I thank them for helping make this moment.
Finally, to my friends: They know who they are, for all they have done, to help reconstruct my life and restore my dignity as a citizen and a woman - you don’t need my thanks. To Yakub and me, and to our children - you are family. I am at peace.
***
In a separate statement, advocate Shobha, who represented Bilkis Bano in the Supreme Court, paraphrased portions of the Special Leave Petition seeking action against the convicted Gujarat Police officials, and listing “multiple ad horrific counts of violation of constitutional rights”, for which Bilkis sought exemplary compensation from the State of Gujarat:
  • For damages to her Constitutional right to life; right to bodily integrity; right to be protected by the State; and right to seek justice for wrongs suffered by her.
  • For damages to her Constitutional rights, not merely those inflicted by perpetrators of murder and gang-rape, but in the Constitutional scheme far worse, because these violations were willfully and criminally and with malafide intent with support of State actors who went to the criminal extent of orchestrating beheading of bodies and burying them in hidden graves to deny the petitioner means to seek justice.
  • For loss of her first-born three-and-a-half years old daughter whose body was never found and to whom the petitioner and her husband could never fulfil their duties as parents, and perform her last rites, and bury her in a grave with basic human dignity because of criminal action by State police officials.
  • or moral damages, include the physical suffering, mental anguish, loss, shock to the petitioners and society’s moral compass, more so because it was enabled by the State actors mandated to protect her, and the petitioners expectation as a citizen was to be protected by them.
  • For the physical damage to her body in suffering brutal aggravated gang-rape, and rape and murder of members of her family, for which State actors should have protected and helped her seek justice.
  • For mental trauma and a lifetime of depression, anxiety, loss, fear, to have to live with the unspeakable trauma of watching her first born child murdered in front of her eyes by her head being smashed on a rock, while the mother is helpless to protect, and is being gang-raped.
  • For financial loss, that she and her husband suffered, in their permanent internal displacement of fleeing their home, and losing all sources of income; and for 15 years of bravely seeking justice; for having to shift over 20 locations, and homes with all their children.
  • For loss of her fundamental and human right to love, affection and emotional support system - she lost 14 family members including all women members of her immediate family. Her children have grown up, denied all female nurturing and support from extended family.
  • For, this she seeks an exemplary compensation that signals restitution of her constitutional, familial, social rights as an equal citizen of this country who deserved and still deserves full protection of the state and of this Hon’ble Court.
---
Click HERE for fact sheet on Bilkis Bano case

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".