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'Nobody believes Bilkis's statement'

January 21, 2008
In Randhikpur, Dasa, Chundi, Pisoi, Chaparwad, Kesarpur and Limkheda, most do not believe Bilkis Banu's statement on basis of which the 11 accused have been convicted and given life terms. Since the morning, there was deep anguish among the relatives of the accused but it subsided after the details of the judgment came out late in the afternoon.

There was scare among relatives that some of the convicted may get death sentences, but the life sentence defused the tension to some extent. However, as soon as the judgment was announced the bazaars of Randhikpur village closed down.

The relatives of the gang-rape accused Govind Nai, Jaswant Nai (brothers), Mitesh Bhatt, Shailesh Bhatt (brothers) and Bakabhai and Kesarbhai (father-son) have been getting maximum sympathy here. As expected, the relatives of the convicts say they are the victims.

A middle-aged relative of one of the accused said, "It is a joke to believe that real brothers and a father and son duo gang-raped Bilkis in a few minutes. Nobody in our village believes in Bilkis’s statement."

He then adds for good measure, "No Hindu father and son will rape the same woman at the same time. Since the day the CBI took over the case in 2003, all the accused in the case were wary. We knew we will be fixed with help of what we popularly call a ‘technical FIR’."

He further explains that it is common knowledge that when the police or victims do not get the real culprits, they prepare a 'full-proof" case which can stand up in court. This is very common in areas where there is history of riots. There are scores of Hindu and Muslim lawyers who do this 'fixing' job in Ahmedabad, Godhra and Baroda, he added. When asked if this case was 'fixed' as well, he refused to comment but added, "Please come to us on Wednesday when relatives of the convicted people will hold a press conference."

Image: The police outpost in the village is in bad shape. The local police will be helped by para-military forces to keep vigil in and around town.
Also read: Coverge: The Gujarat riots
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