This statement was released on 18 September 2022 by a number of civil rights and social justice organizations (listed below) as well as activists and citizens. AGITATE! stands in solidarity with Bilkis Bano and the organizations, groups, and individuals who are agitating with her.
20 YEARS AFTER HORRIFIC GANG-RAPE AND MASS MURDERS IN GUJARAT, ABOUT 6000
CITIZENS SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF BILKIS BANO’S CONTINUING STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE!
Demand the revocation of the pre-mature release of 11 gang-rapists and mass murderers in Gujarat.
Appeal to the Supreme Court of India to undo this grave miscarriage of justice.
Call upon citizens to stand with all victims of rape against such an injustice.
Coming together to express their shock and horror at the pre-mature release of 11 men convicted of gang-rape and mass murder, about 6000 ordinary citizens, grassroot workers, women’s, human rights, peace, secularism, anti-caste, disability, queer rights and other peoples’ movements, groups and activists, eminent writers, historians, scholars, filmmakers, journalists and former bureaucrats and many more, came together to say, “On the morning of August 15, 2022, in his Independence Day address to the nation the Prime Minister of India spoke of women’s rights, dignity and Nari Shakti. That very afternoon Bilkis Bano, a woman who embodied that ‘Nari Shakti’ in her long and daunting struggle for justice, learnt that the perpetrators who killed her family, murdered her 3 year old daughter, gang-raped and left her to die, had walked free.” No one sent her notice. No one asked how she, a gang-rape survivor, felt about the release of her rapists… it shames us that the day we should celebrate our freedoms and be proud of our independence, the women of India instead saw gang-rapists and mass murderers freed as an act of State largesse.
The remission of sentences for the 11 convicted of gang-rape and mass murder will have a chilling effect on every rape victim who is told to ‘trust the system’, ‘seek justice’, ‘have faith’.Further the statement stated that the “remission of these sentences is not only immoral and unconscionable, it violates the State of Gujarat’s own existing remission policy…” and “the guidelines issued by the Central government to States on a prisoner release policy to coincide with Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav which also clearly states that among the categories of prisoners NOT to be granted Special Remission are “those convicted of rape”. Most importantly, in a case investigated and prosecuted by the CBI, no remission can be granted by a State without concurrence by the Centre. That such a remission was even considered, and then permitted, reveals the hollowness of the public posturing about Nari Shakti, Beti Bachao, women’s rights and justice for victims.
Hence, the statement urged the Supreme Court to undo this grave miscarriage of justice. Prominent among the signatories to the statement are:
Groups, organisations and networks: Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Gamana Mahila Samuha, Bebaak Collective, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Pragatisheel Mahila Manch, Parcham Collective, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Amoomat Society, WomComMatters, Centre for Struggling Women, Sahiyar, Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Women & Transgender Joint Action Committee, Bailancho Saad, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, All India Lawyers Association for Justice, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organization, All India Students Association, Mission Justice & Bahutva Karnataka, Swaraj Abhiyan, Democracy Collective, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Delhi Solidarity Group, Collective, Peoples’ Watch, United Christian Forum, Jharkhand Jan Adhikar Mahasabha, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled, CityMakers Mission International, Association of Protection of Democratic Rights, Progressive Writers Association, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Delhi Science Forum, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, National Federation of Indian Women, Movement For Secular Democracy, Hindus for Human Rights, South Asia Forum for Human Rights.
In additional several prominent activists, public intellectuals, scholars, and citizens have endorsed this statement.