New Delhi, Aug 17 (Bureau) The Congress on Wednesday again questioned the release of 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano case, and cornered the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the development.Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi questioned what message was being sent out to the women of the country. “Those who raped a five-month pregnant woman and killed her three-year-old daughter were released during ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.”What message is being given to the women of the country by those who peddle lies about ‘Naari Shakti’?” Rahul Gandhi tweeted. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi attacked Modi referring to his Independence Day speech, when suddenly he had turned emotional on account of disrepect shown to women during his nearly one and half hour speech. She questioned whether “respect for woman was only for speech service”. “The release by the BJP government of the criminals who were convicted from all the courts for the crime of gang rape and murder of a pregnant woman, welcome in front of the camera – is it not the height of injustice and insensitivity (sic)? “Narendra Modi ji, respect for women only for speeches?
Women are asking,” she said.Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera meanwhile questioned if the Gujarat government had sought permission of the Center before ordering the release of the convicts. “Culprits of gang rape and murder were released by Gujarat government on August 15. Gujarat government claims that they were released on the basis of an order of the Supreme Court of India… The truth is that the Supreme Court told Gujarat government to take action in three months, and did not comment on what the decision should be,” Khera said. “They also claimed it was based on a policy of 1992, and not the MHA order of 2014,” said Khera and said the policy is not mentioned anywhere on the website of Gujarat government. “The 2014 MHA guidelines clearly stipulates those convicted of rape, murder or such henious crimes cannot be given pardon…”The so called policy of 1992 was done away with by Gujarat government in 2013 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister,” he said.
“If a crime is investigated by a central agency, state government cannot section 345 CRPC binds state government to take concurrence of central government before taking any such decision,” he said. “We want to ask Prime Minister, Home Minister whether the Gujarat government had taken your concurrence before giving remission to these 11 convicts.” “We want to ask what action is being taken against state government for this illegal activity,” he added. Khera also slammed other Opposition parties for their silence on the issue.”In the Nirbhaya incident, everyone was united… why are other opposition parties quiet on this case. If we don’t ask this question our society will rot,” he said. On Monday, 11 men convicted for raping Bilkis Bano, a Muslim woman, during the 2002 Godhra riots, and killing her three-year-old daughter and 13 others were released by Gujarat government. A special CBI court sentenced all 11 accused to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family in January 2008. The Bombay high court had later upheld their conviction.