8 Jan 2024

Bilkis Bano said this on Supreme Court's decision

Bilkis Bano has given her reaction for the first time after the decision of the Supreme Court.

Bilkis Bano has issued a statement to the media through her lawyer.

In her statement she writes, "Today is truly a new year for me. I am crying tears of relief. I am smiling for the first time in one and a half years. It feels like a stone as heavy as a mountain has been lifted from my chest and I can breathe once again."

She said further, "This is justice. I thank the Supreme Court for giving me, my children and all women the hope of equal justice."

Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub has told that he and his family are happy with the Supreme Court's decision and the justice Bilkis has got.

He said, "We had faith in the justice system of the country and today the Supreme Court has maintained our faith. Many thanks to the Supreme Court."

The Supreme Court has canceled the decision to release 11 convicts of rape of Bilkis Bano by giving them remission in their sentences.

The court said that the right to take decision in this matter should be with the Maharashtra government instead of the Gujarat court.

Accusing the Gujarat government of abusing its power, the Supreme Court also ordered that the 11 men be sent back to jail within two weeks.

In the statement, Bano also said that journeys like that of hers can never be made alone.

'Never allowed me to lose hope in the idea of justice'

"I have had my husband and my children by my side. I have had my friends who have given me so much love at a time of such hate, and held my hand at each difficult turn. I have had an extraordinary lawyer, advocate Shobha Gupta, who has walked with me unwaveringly for over 20 long years, and who never allowed me to lose hope in the idea of justice," she said.

She said that "a year and half ago, on August 15, 2022, when those who had destroyed my family and terrorized my very existence, were given an early release, I simply collapsed."

"Thousands of ordinary people and women of India came forward. They stood with me, spoke for me, and filed PIL petitions in the Supreme Court. 6,000 people from all over, and 8,500 people from Mumbai wrote appeals, 10,000 people wrote an Open Letter , as did 40,000 people from 29 districts of Karnataka," she said.

"To each of these people, my gratitude for your precious solidarity and strength. You gave me the will to struggle, to rescue the idea of justice not just for me, but for every woman in India. I thank you," Bano said.

She said even as she absorbs the full meaning of this verdict "for my own life, and for my children's lives, the dua (prayer) that emerges from my heart today is simple -- the rule of law, above all else, and equality before law, for all."

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