New Delhi, Jan 9 (EFE).- Indian authorities are closely monitoring 11 men convicted of gangraping a Muslim woman during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, awaiting their voluntary surrender after the reversal of an early release order by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court overturned the controversial decision by the Gujarat state government to release the convicts in May 2023.
The men were sentenced to life imprisonment for raping Bilkis Bano and murdering her family during the 2002 communal riots.
Security was tightened in the home villages of the convicts’ families, and authorities have taken measures to maintain law and order.
The convicts are expected to return to prison voluntarily within two weeks.
“We have taken all necessary measures to ensure that the law and order situation is not disturbed. We know the whereabouts of all the convicts, and most of them are at their homes,” Superintendent of Police Balram Meena said, as reported by the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times.
Bano expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court for revoking the release order, stating that it gives her “hope in the promise of equal justice for all.”
She described the decision as a New Year’s relief that allowed her to smile for the first time in over a year and a half.
“I have wept tears of relief. I have smiled for the first time in over a year and half. I have hugged my children. It feels like a stone the size of a mountain has been lifted from my chest, and I can breathe again,” Bano said.
The 2002 communal violence in Gujarat resulted in the killings of 1,000 people, mostly from the Muslim community, following inter-religious clashes triggered by the death of 59 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire.
Bano, who was pregnant during the attack, was raped, and her daughter was among the seven family members murdered while trying to hide from rioters.
Gujarat has been governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, since 2002.
Modi, who was the head of the state government in 2002, has faced accusations of not doing enough to prevent the anti-Muslim riots. EFE