India Releases 11 Men Convicted of Gang-raping A Pregnant Muslim Woman

INDIA – After being sentenced for life for gang-raping a Muslim woman, eleven men were released from prison this week after being recommended for release for ‘good behavior.

A pregnant Muslim woman was gang-raped by eleven Hindu men during Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002, officials confirmed on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from the victim’s husband, lawyers, and politicians.

When India celebrated 75 years since the end of British rule, the men were released from jail in Panchmahals in the western state of Gujarat on Monday after being convicted in early 2008.

Over 1,000 people were killed in Gujarat violence, one of the worst religious riots in Indian history. It is still governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After considering their good behavior and the time the 11 had spent in jail, Panchmahals’ top bureaucrat recommended their release.

According to Sujal Jayantibhai Mayatra, they had served close to 15 years behind bars and were eligible for remission.

Upon serving 14 years in prison, convicts are eligible for remission, according to officials.

A man fed sweetmeat to convicts outside the jail after touching one of their feet, as a sign of respect, according to media footage.

They were disappointed because many family members had also been killed in the riots, the victim’s husband told Reuters.

“Our family has passed away and we want to live in peace, but suddenly this has happened,  The media was the first to inform us about their release, neither from the courts nor from the government.”

The husband Yaqub said

In a country notorious for violence against women, opposition politicians and lawyers said the release contradicted the government’s stated policy of empowering women.

“It is morally and ethically improper to remit the sentences of convicts of gruesome crimes like gang-rape and murder,” said senior lawyer Anand Yagnik. “What is the message we are trying to convey?” 

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