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Charge sheet in Bilkis Bano rape case
January 13, 2005 15:13 IST
Last Updated: January 13, 2005 16:56 IST
A special court in Mumbai has cleared the decks for the commencement of trial in the case of gang rape of Bilkis Bano and massacre of members of the minority community in Gujarat.
The court on Thursday framed charges against the accused for their alleged complicity in the attack on a group of 17 members of the minority community on March 3, 2002, in the aftermath of the Godhra riots.
The Supreme Court had transferred the trial of the case from Gujarat to Maharashtra on August six last year, following the fear expressed by Bilkis Bano that 'the witnesses and the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the case, would come under harm in Gujarat'.
Of the 20 accused, Judge U D Salvi framed charges against 19 and separated the trial of accused Dr Sangeeta Prasad as she was under treatment.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read out to them.
The court set January 27 as the date for the recording of evidence. It also issued summons to Bilkis Bano to appear before it on that day.
The prosecution described the role of the accused in the attack in Devgarh Baria village of Dahod district in Gujarat and also that of public servants in shielding the guilty.
The conspiracy was hatched between February 28, 2002 and March three, 2002, the prosecution claimed.
Twelve of the 20 accused allegedly attacked the victims and gang raped Bilkis Bano, who was six-month pregnant. The attackers also sexually molested Bano's family members and assaulted them.
Of the 17 attacked, eight died, while six others have been reported missing. Three of them - Bilkis Bano, master Hussain and Sadaam -- survived the massacre.
Six police officers are charged with shielding the guilty, while a doctor couple, Arun Kumar and Sangeeta Prasad, are accused of making evidence disappear.
The prosecution also alleged that except the doctor couple, all the other accused had entered into a conspiracy to form unlawful assembly, carry lethal weapons, set houses of Muslims on fire, loot their properties, rape women and kill them.