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‘Rape does not happen in Hindu community’, claims convict in Bilkis Bano case

“We’re innocent. Have you seen an uncle and nephew rape, someone, in front of each other? Does it happen in the Hindu community? No, Hindus don’t do that,” said Govind Nai, one of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case who was acquitted by the Gujarat state government this Independence Day.

Nai was speaking to NDTV who visited Randhikpur in Gujarat’s Dahod district which was once Bilkis and her family’s home.

When NDTV went to visit Govind, he asked them to leave. “Just get lost from my village,” he said while his father stood there refusing to speak.

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Govind Nai had allegedly threatened witnesses while on parole. In the 15 years, he and the others spend in jail, Govind spent nearly three years out on parole.

Bilkis no longer stays in Randhikpur. After 2002, she never visited her hometown. Her house where her family lived is now a cloth shop that Bilkis has rented out to a Hindu woman.

Efforts to contact another convict, Radheshyam Shah, failed as his brother claimed that Radheshyam didn’t live there anymore.

Rajubhai Soni – who owns a jewellery shop left as soon as he saw the camera crew.

A five-month-old pregnant Bilkis Bano was not more than 21 years old when she along with two of her female family members, including her mother were raped while other members of her family that included a three-year-old girl were brutally killed by a mob of angry Hindu rioters.

Eleven were convicted by a special CBI court and the verdict was later upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2008.

Though it was a landmark decision, this year while celebrating India’s 75th year of Independence, the Narendra Modi-led central government gave a not to the BJP-led Gujarat state government to release the convicts. The reason that was presented was the convicts had completed 15 years in jail and were released based on their” good behaviour”.

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