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Updated January 8th, 2024 at 23:17 IST

‘Smiled For the First Time': Bilkis Bano Welcomes ‘Justice’ After SC Overturns her Rapists' Release

Bilkis Bano expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court, declaring, "Today is truly the New Year for me." Bano is now overwhelmed with emotion.

Isha Bhandari
‘Smiled For The First Time in Over a Year and Half ‘: Bilkis Bano Finds ‘Justice’ Over SC Overturning Convicts' Release
‘Smiled For The First Time in Over a Year and Half ‘: Bilkis Bano Finds ‘Justice’ Over SC Overturning Convicts' Release | Image:Republic
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New Delhi: In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Monday overturned the remission granted to 11 men convicted of raping and murdering Bilkis Bano's family during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Expressing her profound relief, Bilkis Bano stated, "This is what justice feels like."

The apex court not only quashed the Gujarat government's remission but also criticized the state's decision as "stereotyped," lacking thoughtful consideration. Accusing the Gujarat government of abusing its power, the Supreme Court ordered the 11 men to return to jail within two weeks.

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Bilkis Bano expresses gratitude to the SC 

In a statement issued through her lawyer, Shobha Gupta, Bilkis Bano expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court, declaring, "Today is truly the New Year for me." Overwhelmed with emotion, she added, "I have wept tears of relief. I smiled for the first time in over a year and a half."

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Describing the weight lifted off her shoulders, Bano said, "It feels like a stone the size of a mountain has been lifted from my chest, and I can breathe again." She thanked the judiciary for providing vindication and hope in the promise of equal justice.

Accompanied by her husband, children, friends, and Advocate Shobha Gupta, Bilkis emphasized the collective efforts that shaped her journey. She praised the ordinary people and women of India who stood by her, filed PIL petitions, and demonstrated unwavering support.

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Bilkis Bano recalls feeling depleted 

Reflecting on the challenging period when those responsible for her family's tragedy were released early, Bano recalled feeling depleted. However, a surge of support from thousands of individuals and groups across the nation renewed her strength. She expressed gratitude to the 6,000 people, 8,500 from Mumbai, and 40,000 from 29 districts of Karnataka who wrote appeals and letters.

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"As I absorb the full meaning of this verdict for my life and my children's lives, the 'dua' that emerges from my heart today is simple – the rule of law, above all else, and equality before the law for all," Bilkis Bano concluded, emphasizing the enduring importance of justice for every woman in India.

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Published January 8th, 2024 at 21:12 IST

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