Months after the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case were prematurely released before their sentence ended, one of the rapists was seen sharing a stage with the Dahod MP from the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), sparking a major controversy.
According to the images that have surfaced on social media, one of the rapists of Bilkis Bano was invited to a government function in Gujarat and was seen sitting on the stage alongside Dahod MP Jasvantsinh Bhabhor, leading to a major backlash from opposition and the victim family.
The person seen on the stage alongside the BJP leader was named Shailesh Bhatt and is one of the 11 men who were convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots, also killing seven of her family members during the harrowing incident.
દાહોદ જીલ્લાના લીમખેડા તાલુકા ખાતે કડાણા ડેમ બલ્ક પાઈપલાઈન આધારિત લીમખેડા જૂથ પાણી પુરવઠા યોજના અંતર્ગત અંદાજીત રકમ ૧૦૧.૮૯ કરોડના કામોનું ભૂમિ પૂજન કર્યું. જેમાં લીમખેડા તાલુકાના ૪૩ ગામ, સિંગવડ તાલુકાના ૧૮ ગામ તથા ઝાલોદ તાલુકાના ૩ ગામને આ યોજનાનો લાભ મળશે.#MemberofParliament pic.twitter.com/sPxZR9VcsK— Jasvantsinh Bhabhor (@jsbhabhor) March 25, 2023
The photo of Shailesh Bhatt sitting on the stage during a Gujarat government function was shared by the official Twitter handle of Jasvantsinh Bhabhor. As per The Quint, Bilkis Bano’s husband confirmed that it was in fact Bhatt who is in the photograph.
Shailesh Bhatt, along with his 10 accomplices, brutally gang raped Bilkis Bano while she was trying to flee the 2002 Gujarat riots along with her family. The 11 convicts had also killed seven members of her family, including Bano’s three-year-old daughter.
The 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case were sentenced to life imprisonment but were released prematurely by a Gujarat court after they were granted remission. The release of the convicts sparked a major controversy, with many opposition leaders slamming the ruling BJP in the state.
Bilkis Bano and her family are continuing the fight against the release of the 11 convicts in the gang rape case and had filed a petition seeking a review of the decision of the premature release, but the same was dismissed by the Supreme Court in December 2022.
READ | Bilkis Bano gang rape case: SC to form special bench to hear plea against release of convicts