48-hour dharna by TMC against release of convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case
Members of TMC women wing during the 48-hour dharna

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) women’s wing Tuesday launched a 48-hour dharna in the city in protest against the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, calling it “shameful and unacceptable”.

The protest leaders condemned the Centre for its alleged lax attitude in dealing with the safety and security of women, including the recent rape of a woman by Border Security Force personnel at Bagda in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.

“The law of the country says that when remission is considered for any prisoner those punished for rape and trafficking are not to be considered. We cannot understand how the covicts in the Bilkis Bano case were released. It is shameful and unacceptable,” senior TMC leader and state Industry Minister Shashi Panja said.

All the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gang rape and murder of seven members of her family walked out of Godhra sub-jail last month after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

Slamming the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Gujarat for not taking any action to put the 11 men back in jail, Panja said, “The women of the country feel unsafe and humiliated by their action”. Referring to the National Crime Records Bureau data, she said New Delhi, whose law and order is under the jurisdiction of the union home ministry, is one of the most unsafe cities in the country for women.

“It is important to note that Delhi Police is under the Union Home Ministry, which has not said a word on the NCRB report,” she said.

Speaking at the event, senior TMC leader and state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya lashed out at the Centre over the Bagda rape.

“The BSF is supposed to guard the country’s borders, are committing heinous crimes. Will the union home minister seek a report on the incident and punish the BSF personnel accused of raping the woman? Why is he silent on the issue?” she said.

Two BSF personnel were arrested on the charge of raping a woman who was allegedly trying to illegally cross over to Bangladesh from West Bengal in August.

The release of the convicted in the Bilkis Bano incident and rape of a woman by BSF personnel reflects the “hypocrisy” of the BJP government at the Centre which speaks about “nari shakti and women empowerment”, Bhattacharya said.

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