New Delhi: Bilkis Bano, whose gangrape and family’s massacre became one of the worst instances of the brutality of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, will receive a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh from the state government, the Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday.
On learning that she has no place to live and been leading a nomadic life since 2002, a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also asked the state to provide her with a government job and accommodation. The Gujarat government told the Court that it has taken action against police officers involved in the case, blocking the pension of four and demoting a fifth.
Turning down the state government’s offer of Rs. 5 lakh, Bilkis Bano had sought exemplary compensation and action against the police officers who tried to derail the investigation and were convicted by the Bombay High Court.
Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur, a village near Ahmedabad, during the post-Godhra riots on 3 March 2002. Fourteen members of her family were murdered. The youngest of them was Bilkis Bano’s three-year-old daughter Saleha, whose head was smashed with a rock.
Bilkis Bano, who was pregnant at the time, was gang raped. She survived only because the men left her for dead.
In 2008, 11 men were convicted for the rape and given life imprisonment by the Bombay High Court.
But no action was taken against the police officers who had tried to derail the investigation into the case by fudging evidence and influencing witnesses even though they had been convicted by the court. Bilkis Bano’s lawyer had told the Supreme Court that four of the officers had retired and a fifth – IPS officer RS Bhagora – was about to. But no disciplinary action had been taken against them.
The top court had ordered action and directed the state government to file a report. Today, the Gujarat government informed the top court that the pension of the four retired officers has been blocked. The senior officer, Deputy Commissioner RS Bhagora, who is still serving, is being demoted.
In its judgment, the high court had ordered the five policemen to pay a fine Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 5,000. But they were not given any prison term since they had already spent time in jail as undertrials.