As part of its pardon policy by the Gujarat government, 11 convicts serving life term in the Bilkis Bano gang rape and murder of their relatives have been released prematurely. A person who was a key witness in the case has alleged that a released convict has threatened to kill him.
New Delhi: Imtiaz Ghanchi (45), a key witness in the Bilkis Bano case, has claimed that he was recently threatened by a convict Radheshyam Shah.
According to the report of The Quint, Imtiaz has written a letter to the Chief Justice of the country, UU Lalit, seeking protection in view of the threat to his life.
According to The Quint, Ghanchi recalled his sudden meeting with Shah on September 15, saying, “He [शाह] threatened me saying that we will beat you people out of the village.
Radhey Shyam Shah is one of the 11 people convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of his family members, including his three-year-old daughter, during the 2002 Godhra riots, who was released on August 15 after the Gujarat government pardoned his sentence. – The former has been released.
The decision to release the convicts has been challenged in the Supreme Court, which earlier this month directed the Gujarat government to produce records relating to the release of the convicts.
Recalling the September 15 incident, Ghanchi told The Quint that Radheshyam saw him at the Piplod railway gate when he was on his way from Singvad village to his home in Deogarh Baria. He admitted that he was scared, but he was not surprised as he had anticipated such a situation since the release of eleven convicts.
He told, ‘I was on a motorcycle and waiting for the train to pass, when Radheshyam Shah saw me and signaled to come near him. I was afraid to go near him but went away. Then he threatened me that now we have come out. You will drive people out of the village of Mar-Mar. ,
Immediately after the 2002 riots, Ghanchi left his home with his family in his native village Singwad (Randhikpur) and moved to a relief colony in Deogarh Baria and has been living there since then with his wife and children.
He told, ‘After the riots in 2002, he had stopped going to the village (Randhikpur). Never had the courage to go back. But I am a daily wage laborer, have to go to the village in search of work.
In his letter to the CJI on 19 September, Ghanchi has told that Radheshyam Shah, who was sitting in his car with his driver, threatened him and laughed at him as he was leaving. Since then, Ghanchi has written letters to many officials including the CJI. He has also sent a copy of the letter to the CJI to the Gujarat Home Secretary and the National Human Rights Commission, stating that there is a threat to his life.
During the trial in the special Mumbai Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the case, Ghanchi had told that the day after the Godhra train burning incident, he saw one of the accused (now dead) Naresh Modhiya holding a Rampuri knife in his hand.
He had also told the court that he had also seen another accused Pradeep Modhiya pelting stones and shouting slogans near his house in Randhikpur.
Significantly, on February 27, 2002, 59 kar sevaks were killed in a fire in the coach of the Sabarmati Express. After this, riots broke out all over Gujarat. To escape the riots, Bilkis Bano, who was then five months pregnant, fled her village along with her baby girl and 15 other family members.
On March 3, 2002, a mob of 20-30 people attacked the family of Bilkis in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district where they were hiding. Here Bilkis Bano was gang-raped, while seven family members, including her daughter, were killed.
The Supreme Court ordered a CBI inquiry after Bilkis reached the National Human Rights Commission regarding the matter. The accused in the case were arrested in 2004.
The trial of the case began in Ahmedabad, but Bilkis Bano feared that witnesses might be harmed, as well as tampering with the evidence collected by the CBI, after which the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004. .
On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court had sentenced 11 accused to life imprisonment after finding them guilty of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and killing seven of his family members. He was convicted under the Indian Penal Code on charges of conspiracy to rape, murder and unlawful assembly of a pregnant woman. His sentence was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
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