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‘Only Hanging or Life Imprisonment Will Bring Justice’: Eyewitness in Bilkis Bano Case Urges for Strict Punishment

The sole eyewitness in the Bilkis Bano case, who was just seven years old when a horrifying mob attack claimed 14 lives, has spoken out, demanding the convicted individuals face either hanging or life imprisonment to truly serve justice.

The now 28-year-old, residing in Ahmedabad with his wife and 5-year-old son, vividly recalls the traumatic events, stating, “I still wake up in the night and scream as those moments haunt me even after all these years.”

Expressing his disappointment over the release of 11 convicts facing life terms in August 2022, he stated, “I felt very hurt when they were set free. I am somewhat relieved now because they will be sent behind bars once again.”

His mother and elder sister were among the 14 victims killed that day. The eyewitness said, “All the convicts must be either hanged or they must be kept behind bars for the remainder of their lives. Only then justice will be served. These men must never be set free again.”

The Supreme Court, on January 8 this year, overturned the Gujarat government’s decision to prematurely release the convicts responsible for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of 14 persons during the 2002 riots following the Godhra train burning incident.

Describing the events leading to the attack, a social activist who provided shelter to the eyewitness said, “Bilkis Bano, along with this boy (eyewitness) and his mother and elder sister, were attacked by a mob on March 3. Of those 17, the mob killed 14, including an infant, and then gang-raped Bilkis.”

The activist, who became the eyewitness’s guardian, emphasized the crucial role the boy played in the case. “Since he was the only eyewitness, he testified before a special CBI court in 2005 in Mumbai. His testimony proved crucial because it matched the sequence of events narrated by complainant Bilkis Bano. He also identified four of the 11 accused during the hearing.”

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