by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
Some crimes are pardonable, some are not but sometimes some pardons are not pardonable. Recently, the Gujrat government formed a committee that suggested the government release 11 convicts who were serving a life sentence for gang-raping a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano during the riots in Gujrat in 2002. The released convicts were garlanded and offered sweets to observe their freedom. Now rape is not something to be celebrated about things took another turn in a bizarre way when a member on the committee which recommended this release stated that because the rapists were from good families and belonged to a certain community then they should see the light of the day.
Obviously, some very disturbing question arises from this whole unfortunate turn of events and I am sure that these questions would have been pondered upon by morally upstanding people in the Gujrat Government but, these men of “ethics” for some reason have chosen to ignore all ethical considerations and the guidelines of the central government and gave these prisoners a new lease on life. Firstly, How does one define a good rape and a bad rape? We often object to kidnapping and forceful conversions of Hindu and Sikh girls in Pakistan, which has a terrible record of protecting the rights and dignity of minority women, so what excuse are we going to come up with when questions are asked from us about this incident. Secondly, what message are we sending to victims of rape who carry the scars of that trauma their entire life? I remember when a politician tried to justify rape as something of a mistake made under the passions of youth then the whole country had a different response but just imagine if the government in another state take the cue and start drawing their interpretations about heinous crimes.
Thirdly, what is the BJPs central leadership stance on this decision of the Gujrat government? They will remain silent on this travesty of justice but “Rajdharma” is too much of an expectation from the current government and I do not anticipate it to change anytime soon. There is a reasoning behind this move and the upcoming state legislative elections are seen as a major factor that went behind this release.
Whatever may be the case this decision of the Gujrat government will have far-reaching consequences both for the state and the country but our leaders, unfortunately, are not granted the foresight to assess the consequences of the future.