They’re Brahmins: BJP MLA on Bilkis remission panel defends convicts

The 11 men are guilty of gang rape and mass murder, including a three-year-old child

CK Raulji, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs from Gujarat who was responsible for the release of men who raped Bilkis Bano sided with the convicts on the grounds that they belonged to the Brahmin community.

In an interview with Mojo Story, MLA Raulji can be heard saying, “They are Brahmins. They have good sanskaars (culture).”

Speaking to a reporter, the BJP MLA whose constituency is Godhra said, “We don’t know whether they (the 11 convicts) are guilty or not. Their conduct was good in the jail. Besides, they are Brahmins. They are well-cultured men.”

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Earlier, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram took to Twitter claiming that the panel contained two MLAs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

C K Raolji and Suman Chauhan, the two MLAs in question; as well as Murli Mulchandani, who is one of the key witnesses for the prosecution in the Godhra train burning case were allegedly part of the panel.

Tragedy of Bilkis Bano

Twenty years ago, on February 28, 2002, Sabarmati Express carrying karsevaks was set on fire in Godhra station. What followed the attack on the train were riots that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent victims, mostly Muslim families.

Bilkis Bano, who was a little less than 21 years of age and five months pregnant at that time, tried to flee the state with her family, including her three-year-old daughter – Sahela.

March 3, 2002, the family reached Pannivel village and took refuge in a field. However, they were soon cornered by 20-30 Hindu men, armed with sticks, sickles, and swords.

As they shouted, ‘Aa rahya Musalmano, emane maaro, kaato,’ (these are the Muslims, kill them, cut them’) Bilkis recognized many faces.

What followed was a blood bath and a cry for mercy as one by one Bilkis’s family members were killed. Four women including Bilkis and her mother were brutally gang raped and assaulted. One of the accused – Shailesh Bhatt – snatched Bilkis’s daughter from her arms and smashed the toddler’s head onto the ground, killing her instantly.

Fifteen of her family members were killed that day. Her cousin who had given birth to a baby girl the previous day was brutally ripped off, raped, and killed along with her infant. Bilkis was left naked, bleeding, and unconscious. Since Bilkis was the lone survivor and eyewitness of the murders, she went through the ordeal of identifying the bodies, including her toddler. She also underwent a medical examination four days after her rape.

After fighting the case for six long years, on January 18, 2008, the special court in Mumbai sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment (one had died) and arrested a policeman for three years for trying to destroy evidence.

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