Friday, January 18, 2008

Hailing the Indian Judiciary: Bilkis Bano gets justice in Gujarat genocide case

Bilkis Bano, one of the faces of the horrors of Gujarat genocide, ultimately got justice on Friday.

The brave woman was six-months pregnant when she was gang-raped, saw her eight family members slaughtered and her own 3-1/2 year old child killed by a bloodthirsty mob in Narendra Modi's Holy Land of Hindutva.

Six years later, a Mumbai Sessions court held 13 of the 20 accused in the case, guilty of rioting, murders and rapes, letting seven others including a doctor couple that fudged evidence, for lack of evidence.

Justice UD Salvi's landmark judgment will go a long way in healing the wounds of the riot victims, who had lost all hopes from a Rogue State (Gujarat), where administration, police and sections of lawyers colluded to shield the accused.

For riot-scarred Bilquees Bano, it has been an excruciatingly long fight for justice. At least, 20 times she changed her residence but remained committed to her pledge to get justice in her own country.

The court decision has again strengthened the belief of Indians, especially minorities in this great Nation, its democracy, its judiciary and its age-old values. And reinforces out belief why Indian Muslims even after such major carnages, have

We must Salute the Indian judiciary. Public Prosecutor RK Shah did a great job in presenting the case. We can't forget how the head of the team of government lawyers, Arvind Pandya, was shamelessly caught confessing on camera in a sting operation that he was saving the killers.

Supreme Court had shifted the case from Gujarat, after reports of harassment of the victims and witnesses apart from attempts to tamper evidences and delays in the case proceedings. The CBI also conduced the investigation in a fair manner.

The NGOs, Teesta Setalwad for her rigorous testimony, social activists like Huma Naqvi and umpteen others who stood by Bilkees Bano, played a great role in this fight for justice through financial, legal and emotional support to her.

The quantum of judgment would be known next week. Now all of us can hope that victims of Naroda Patiya massacre, Best Bakery Case, Sardarpura killings and the murders in Gulbarg Society will also get justice.

It is a big judgment in the context that such verdicts go a long way towards sending the signal to the poor victims that despite all odds, there is a sytem in place in this country that can get you justice though the road may be hard and long.

Bilquis Bano's son may grow up to the stories of atrocities in Gujarat but I am sure he will be proud of his country and his mother. Of thinking that his mother fought this case, hundreds of others with no kinship came along, and this country and its courts gave his family, Justice.

Salaam Bilquis!