The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is all set to take up the issue of remission of 11 convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case nationally.
The Gujarat government on August 15 released the 11 men under its remission and premature release policy after one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah, moved the SC. Bilkis was gangraped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among the 14 killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district. Bilkis was pregnant at the time.
TMC MP Mahua Moitra has already filed a plea in the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the remission. The party now plans to take it up politically too, as a counter to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s corruption charges.
The TMC’s women’s wing plans to hold rallies in every district of Bengal on August 25 and 26. On August 25, a rally will also be held in Kolkata.
Speaking to News18, Chandrima Bhattacharya, President, TMC Mahila Congress, said, “Bano was brutally gang-raped during communal violence that followed the Godhra incident. Her family was brutally murdered. The rapists and murderers were found guilty and convicted by court. But shamelessly, these 11 culprits were released from jail on Independence Day. Is this how the BJP respects women?”
Bhattacharya said they wanted the release to be cancelled.
Party insiders say issues related to women have a huge impact in Bengal. The party believes women voters have played an important role in TMC chief and WB CM Mamata Banerjee’s victory over the BJP. “This is why the Bilkis issue has been taken up in court, on social media and now also on the streets. Not only Bengal, the TMC will take up the issue in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya too,” they said.
Another issue the TMC has taken up is the comment of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni on farmers. Teni, whose son is in jail over allegations of running over farmers last year, spoke about “dogs barking and chasing his car”, in an apparent reference to protesting farmers in a controversial speech live-streamed by his supporters.
All spokespersons of the TMC have condemned it. Minister Shashi Panja said, “This is disgusting. This is the behaviour of a Union Minister. The TMC protests against this. The way he has humiliated farmers is intolerable.”