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I hope justice will be done now: Bilkis Bano
August 08, 2004 20:17 IST
Accusing the Gujarat government of failing to protect Muslim women, Bilkis Bano, gangrape victim during the post-Godhra riots and sole witness of the massacre of her 14 relatives, on Sunday expressed hope that justice would done now as the trial has been shifted to Mumbai by the Supreme court.
In her first press conference since the incident occurred on March 3, 2002 in Dahod district, Bilkis claimed that there were cases similar to hers in the post-Godhra communal riots and that her case may pave way for them also to seek justice.
"Was it not the state's responsibility to protect us and should it not compensate us for the incident? Now that the Supreme court has taken up the matter I hope the question about compensation and impunity for sexual violence will also be addressed," Bilkis said.
The riot-victim, who also lost her minor daughter during the carnage said the main reason for her applying for the case to be transfered outside Gujarat was due to the threats received by her, her relatives and the witnesses.
Bilkis, in a statement said, "Today, along with a sense of hope I am also filled with sadness because I know the manner in which sexual violence was systematically used against so many women of my community in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. I am not the only one."
"There are many women out there whose names and faces I do not know but whose pain I can feel," she added.
The press conference, organised by a Delhi-based activist Farha Naqvi, said, "We are still unsure as to who would bear the cost of transportation of the 54-odd witnesses and their stay once the trial is shifted to Mumbai."
The activist said Bilkis had to shift her house around 20 times till the SC order announced the shifting of the case.
Naqvi, however, evaded a direct reply when asked if she felt that the judiciary in Gujarat was "influenced" by politicians.
On being asked why her police statement's varied, as claimed by Gujarat police and the reason cited by them for dropping investigation of the case, Bilkis said police had taken her statment twice (February 4 and February 6, 2002) and also threatened her with dire consequences to not name anybody.
"I gave my first police statement on February 4 and they said they were taking me to a doctor who might inject me with poison if I gave any names. Then I went to a relief camp and my statment was again recorded and my thumb impression taken. I am illiterate and do not know what they wrote in the police complaint," Bilkis said.
The CBI has arrested 20 persons in this sensational case that includes a local BJP leader, six police officers (two of DySP rank) and a husband-wife doctor couple.
The Gujarat Riots: The Complete Coverage