Legal victory: 11 men convicted in 2008 rape case ordered back to prison

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NEW DELHI, Jan 8: India’s highest court, on Monday, reinstated life sentences for 11 Hindu men convicted of raping a Muslim woman during deadly religious riots two decades ago. The Supreme Court directed the convicts to surrender to the authorities within two weeks. Originally convicted in 2008 for the charges of rape and murder, the men were released in 2022 after serving 14 years in prison.

The victim, now in her 40s, suffered a brutal gang rape in 2002 in the western Gujarat state during communal rioting, marking some of India’s most severe religious violence that claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, predominantly Muslims. Tragically, seven members of the woman’s family, including her 3-year-old daughter, lost their lives during the riots. It’s worth noting that the Associated Press generally refrains from identifying victims of sexual assault.

The convicted men were initially eligible for sentence remission under the policy in place at the time of their convictions. Gujarat officials, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party holds power, justified their release in 2022, citing completion of over 14 years in jail as grounds for remission.

However, a revised policy implemented by the federal government in 2014 prohibits remission release for individuals convicted of specific crimes, including rape and murder. Following their release, the victim filed a petition with the Supreme Court, expressing that “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of the society.”

The 2002 riots have been a persistent issue for Modi, who was Gujarat’s top elected official at the time. Allegations surfaced, accusing authorities of allowing and even encouraging the bloodshed. Modi has consistently denied any involvement, and the Supreme Court has asserted that it found no evidence to prosecute him.

This news has been read 744 times!

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