Two BJP legislators CK Raolji and Suman Chauhan formed part of the committee that had recommended the remission of 11 convicts, who had gang-raped Bilkis Bano and killed seven members of her family in the 2002 Gujarat riots, said media reports.
The convicts had served 14 years of what was supposed to be a sentence of life imprisonment and they were prematurely released, added the reports. CK Raolji is a seasoned politician, while Suman Chauhan is a first-time MLA.
After the release of the convicts, Bilkis Bano appealed to the Gujarat government to give back her right to “live without fear and in peace.” No one enquired about her “safety and well-being before taking such a big and unjust decision,” she said.
Besides the two BJP legislators, who were part of the committee helmed by Godhra collector and district magistrate Sujal Mayatra, two other members are also linked to the BJP, further added the media reports. They are social worker and former BJP Godhra municipal councillor Murli Mulchandani, a critical eyewitness in the Godhra train carnage and a BJP women’s wing worker, Snehaben Bhatia.
Also read: I am numb, says Bilkis Bano after release of gang rape, murder convicts
Other committee members, who had made an unanimous decision to recommend the remission of the convicts, were a district social welfare officer, a sessions judge and a jail superintendent. After the convicts were released, they were given a grand welcome by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
It was after a long and protracted legal battle, which the National Human Rights Commission had fought against the then Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government, that these men got convicted.
According to the Gujarat government, in this case, they exercised their discretionary powers on the basis of the state’s 1992 remission policy, which does not exclude any category of criminal (even one who has committed a heinous crime) from being eligible, provided they have served at least 14 years of their sentence. Gujarat additional chief secretary (Home) Raj Kumar, meanwhile, told the media that the remission application was considered because the convicts had completed 14 years in jail, and factors such as “age, nature of the crime, behaviour in prison and so on”.