Shabana Azmi Breaks Down As She Speaks About Release Of Bilkis Bano Gang Rape Convicts

Shabana Azmi Breaks Down As She Speaks About Release Of Bilkis Bano Gang Rape Convicts

New Delhi: Shabana Azmi broke down while speaking about the release of the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. The veteran actress said she is deeply ashamed and stunned over the recent development in the case.  

While speaking to NDTV, Shabana said that she expected an outrage after the convicts were released but was surprised.  “I have no words (for Bilkis Bano) except that I am deeply ashamed. I have no other words. This woman has had such a huge tragedy. And yet she didn’t lose courage. She fought all the way. She got these people convicted and, like her husband says, just when she’s about to bring her life together, this great travesty of justice happens…Shouldn’t we be shouting from the rooftops so that justice is done to this person? And the women who are feeling unsafe in this country, women who face the threat of rape every day – shouldn’t they get some sense of security. What do I answer my children, my grandchildren? What can I say to Bilkis? I am ashamed,” the actress told NDTV.   

She added, “Takes me completely by surprise because when this happened I just expected there would be such an outpouring of outrage. I waited two days, three days, there was such little visibility in the media, in any kind of discussion. One day I was sitting with some people…the Bilkis Bano case was talked about. They said, ‘But what’s the big deal? They have already served the sentence, ab kya shor machana (why create a fuss now)?’ They weren’t even fully cognizant of what had happened, they weren’t even aware that these 11 convicts had been released. I was just stunned that this could happen. Even now I think there is not enough understanding of the injustice and horror of what has happened…These convicts are released and they are felicitated and laddoos are being distributed – what is the signal we are giving to society?” 

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The 11 convicts walked out of jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.   

They were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008 on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. 

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district. Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang raped and seven members of her family were killed by rioters.