The BJP-led Gujarat government on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court defending its decision to grant remission to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.

It said the remission was granted as they had completed 14 years in prison and their “behaviour was found to be good”.

The 11 rape and murder convicts had walked free on August 15 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about women empowerment from the ramparts of the Red Fort as part of his Independence Day speech.

Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, was raped and seven of her family members, including her daughter, were killed during the post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat in 2002. The convicts were serving a life sentence in the Godhra sub-jail.

On March 3, 2002, Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod. A pregnant Bano was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed. A special CBI court in Mumbai had on January 21, 2008, sentenced to life imprisonment 11 accused in the case of murder and gang rape.

Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay high court. The convicts served more than 15 years in prison, after which one of them approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release. The Gujarat government later issued an order to release all the 11 convicts, as per its remission policy, following which they walked out of the jail on August 15.

By Shadab

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