This Stain On Govt’s Legacy Will Never Wash Off: Congress

A day after it was revealed that all the accused in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case were released after approval from the Union home ministry, the Congress trained its guns on the central government, saying “this stain on the legacy of this dispensation will never wash off”.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 18 October, 2022 11:03 pm IST
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi

A day after it was revealed that all the accused in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case were released after approval from the Union home ministry, the Congress trained its guns on the central government, saying “this stain on the legacy of this dispensation will never wash off”.

“This shocking revelation came to light when the Modi government, in its reply before the Supreme Court, revealed that it had given its concurrence and approval for the release of the individuals convicted of gangraping Bilkis Bano and killing her three-and-a-half-year-old child and various family members,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Tuesday.

Singhvi, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, said that it is “repugnant, reprehensible and revolting that an elected government chose to release these convicts in such a cavalier manner”. “The grant of premature release to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case is a stain on this government’s legacy that will never wash off,” he said.

Singhvi also said that when the release was ordered on August 15 this year, the Modi government maintained a studied and deliberate silence on freeing the criminals, an action which has drawn legitimate criticism from the world over and “exposed our system to widespread shame and ridicule”.

Lamenting at the Central government, the Congress leader said, “The fact that the Modi government actively suppressed this fact shows that even it was aware that the action was a condemnable one.”

Hitting out at the government, Singhvi said that despite the Modi government’s “desperate and clumsy attempts to justify this embarrassing and demeaning action, it is clear that the sole underlying calculation for it was raw political”.

“There are many compromises in politics. But the BJP has made the greatest compromise of all; a sacrifice of the last shred of conscience that separated them from those craven and venal elements who prize solely their own political survival over all else,” he said.

“The case being sub-judice, public opinion and public conscience are no less important. The Modi government must answer in the court of the people,” he said.

Eleven men convicted in the case, related to the 2002 Gujarat riots, walked out free from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 this year after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its three-decade-old remission policy.

Singhvi further said that the panel that had ordered the release of the convicts in the case had “cited dubious justifications –
such as they belonged to Brahmin and ‘sanskari’ families – for their release and even opined, without any basis or justification, that the convicts may have been intentionally framed”.

“What it had not said was that the Ministry of Home Affairs, had granted its approval for such premature release,” Singhvi said. “Was the panel acting under some compulsion that it reduced its process to an ostensible formality?” he asked.

“This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the release was a political decision made with not just the knowledge but the concurrence of those in the highest echelons of power in the Modi government,” he said.

Firing salvos at the government, Singhvi said, “Why has the Modi government, despite the objections of senior officials, sought to grant preferential treatment to individuals convicted of so reprehensible, horrific and heinous a crime?”

“Has the government decided to pardon all convicted rapists and child murderers who have served a certain period? With what face will it now oppose demands for parole which cite this precedent,” he questioned.

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