Explained: The Gujarati and Marathi identities in cosmopolitan Mumbai

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 03-08-2022 | 07:50 pm

Explained: The Gujarati and Marathi identities in cosmopolitan Mumbai

It is because Mumbai’s cosmopolitanism is such a visible and inalienable part of the legend of India’s greatest city that Governor B S Koshyari’s recent observation about the contribution of Gujaratis and Rajasthanis to the building of the financial capital raised eyebrows even among people with whom the politics of Marathi pride does not normally resonate.#WATCH | If Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money would be left here. Mumbai would not be able to remain the financial capital of the country: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari pic.twitter.com/l3SlOFMc0v— ANI (@ANI) July 30, 2022Those who live in the city see themselves as Mumbaikars — partners in the joys and struggles that are typical of Mumbai, with the divisions of caste, community, region, or gender often blurring in shared public spaces. And yet, the Marathi-Gujarati controversy that the Governor triggered is familiar to the city — a cultural and social argument that has bubbled to the surface repeatedly.Appended to the core question — “to whom does Mumbai belong?” — have been other issues, such as, “Should Mumbai remain with Maharashtra or get an independent identity as a Union Territory?”The struggle for MaharashtraMaharashtra was created on May 1, 1960 by cleaving the bilingual Bombay State into the unilingual states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, dominated linguistically by Marathi and Gujarati speakers respectively. The leadership of the Congress party was forced to retain Mumbai in the new state of Maharashtra. Other suggestions — including handing over Mumbai to Gujarat or making it a Union Territory — were categorically rejected by stalwarts from Maharashtra.The birth of the new state was preceded by a period of intense turmoil. In 1956, police fired on a peaceful demonstration by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti demanding a separate state of Maharashtra, killing 106 people. The stone statue of patriots holding a torch at Hutatma Chowk in the heart of Mumbai is a stark reminder of the blood and sweat that was shed during the agitation for Mumbai (then Bombay).The firing incident gave impetus to the movement for Maharashtra. Between 1956 and 1960, the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, which was then led by veteran communist and socialist leaders, played a significant role in ensuring Mumbai (then Bombay) remained with Maharashtra instead of going to Gujarat.Among the prominent leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement were Shripad Amrit Dange, Shreedhar Mahadev Joshi, Narayan Gore, Uddhavrao Patil, Annabhau Sathe, Prahlad Keshav Atre, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, Pandurang Mahadev Bapat, Bhausaheb Raut, Amar Shaikh, G T Madholkar, Madhuri Dandavate, Y K Saini, and Keshavrao Jedhe.In the decades after Maharashtra was created, however, many complained that its capital did not quite represent the nerve centre of the Marathi identity, and was instead dominated financially and culturally by others, led by Gujaratis.CPI leader Prakash Reddy said, “The capitalists always favoured a separate Mumbai. If Mumbai has remained in Maharashtra, the credit goes to the city’s common people, the struggling classes, who took to the streets during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement under the able leadership of communist and socialists leaders.”He added: “Unfortunately, even today, a handful of capitalists control the city. And they are still working to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra with the patronage of politicians.”Issue of political polarisationWhat is notable is that the Gujarati versus Marathi polarisation has often come into play during successive elections, albeit with changing characteristics.Broadly, while the Shiv Sena is identified as the custodian of the Marathi interest, the BJP has been seen as the party of Gujaratis. The protection and advancement of the Marathi manoos was indeed a foundational principle of the Shiv Sena.But in as much of a nod to the innate cosmopolitanism of Mumbai as to the electoral logic of numbers, political parties have reached out to all sections of society. Last year, the Shiv Sena under former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray coined the slogan “Khao jalebi, fafda; Uddhav Thackeray aapda (Eat jalebi, fafda, Uddhav Thackeray is ours)”. Jalebi and fafda are snacks popular with Gujaratis. This is also why Governor Koshyari’s statement — that Mumbai and Thane would be left with no money if Gujaratis and Rajasthanis were taken away — struck a discordant note. While the Governor issued a clarification, Thackeray was quick to issue a condemnation of his statements.Congress leader Husain Dalwai, who has long had a close association with socialist leaders, said, “Mumbai has always embraced people across classes, communities and religions. But it is the hidden agenda of some segments to break it. The state Governor’s remark is an attempt to instigate one community against another. The politics of dividing has always been detrimental for Mumbai.”Politicians cutting across party lines distanced themselves from Koshyari’s remarks. The Marathi vote bank amounts to 26-30 per cent of the total, while Gujaratis account for up to 17 per cent. A senior Sena leader said, “Although Mumbai was the bone of contention in the creation of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the two communities have learnt to coexist.”And a senior BJP functionary said, “Whether it is the common Marathi manoos or the Gujarati, their basic concern is livelihood and happiness. In Mumbai they seek opportunities to fulfill their aspirations.”

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A workforce less diverse
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am

This article analyses the underrepresentation of Muslims in the public and private sector, state-wise and over more than 10 years. We use the 66th and 68th rounds of the National Sample Survey, called ‘Employment and Unemployment,’ whose data was collected from July 2009 to June 2010 and July 2011 to June 2012. We also use the Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS) of July 2018-June 2019 and July 2019-2020. In each case, the samples are very large — in 2009-10, 122,359 people, in 2011-12, 125,931, in 2018-19, 99,988 and in 2019-20, 100,991.These surveys examine the composition of the public and private sectors, religion-wise. For the private sector, the category “proprietors” refers to the fact that the persons enumerated are not part of the salaried milieu but “self-employed” (a formula we keep) because if few of them are CEOs, most of them do work that pays less — shopkeepers and artisans for instance.To make the interpretation more robust, some weightage has been applied. Weight is basically a survey design variable that says approximately how many households in the population a surveyed household represents. The weightage associated with one household defines the number of households it represents in the population.The first two series, the 2009-10 and 2011-12 surveys, have only one public sector variable, while the 2018-19 and 2019-20 surveys account for the bureaucracy and state-owned enterprises. For the sake of comparison between the first two rounds and the later ones, we have bracketed together “bureaucracy” and “state-owned enterprises” and compared these data with the “public sector” category.There are significant variations between the first two rounds and the last two, even if we see more variations in frequency counts graphs than in weighted graphs — this is because frequency counts represent sample population and weighted data represent total populations. But to minimise the variations, we have calculated average figures for the first two rounds on the one hand and for the second two rounds on the other. As a result, two datasets have been generated by combining four data sets.The results are telling. While Muslims form 14.2 per cent of the Indian population, their proportion of the public sector employment has stagnated at below 7 per cent (from 6.75 to 6.87 per cent) between 2009-12 and 2018-2020. In contrast, Hindus who constitute 80.2 per cent of India’s population comprise about 86 per cent of the public sector. On the other hand, Muslims are over-represented among the self-employed — 16.5 per cent in 2009-12 and 15.5 per cent in 2018-20 per cent, an erosion we see in most states.In India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims represent 19.26 per cent of the population, their percentage in the public sector had gone up from 5 per cent in 2010 to 11.5 per cent in 2012, when the Samajwadi Party was in office. But it has dropped to 7 per cent in 2019 and 6.5 per cent in 2020. Muslims are over-represented among the self-employed, simply because they have no other choice but to be on their own. Between 2010 and 2020, their percentage among the “self-employed” remained around 24 per cent. This pattern repeats in Madhya Pradesh as well, where Muslims (6.6 per cent of the population) represented 3 per cent of the public sector’s employees in 2009-12 and 4.5 per cent in 2018-20. They represented 10.7 per cent of the self-employed in 2009-12 and 11.7 of this category in 2018-20.In Rajasthan, Muslims, about 9 per cent of the population as per the 2011 Census, constituted 4.1 to 4.3 per cent of the employees in the public sector. They were over-represented among the self-employed despite some erosion in the later years — 13 per cent in 2009-12 to 10.2 per cent in 2018-20. In Delhi, the trends are the same: Muslims, 12.9 per cent of the population, represented only 4 to 5 per cent of the government employees but 14.5 per cent of the self-employed in 2009-2012 and 13.41 per cent of this category in 2018-20. They are over-represented among the self-employed but experienced some erosion. In Maharashtra too, the percentage of Muslims in the public sector, 4.8 per cent in 2009-12 and 5.2 in 2018-20 was much below their share of the state’s population —11.5 per cent. They remained over-represented among the self-employed –16.9 per cent in 2009-12 and 16.4 per cent in 2018-20. Similar trends are found in Karnataka, where Muslims constitute about 12.9 per cent of the state but only 6.2 per cent of public sector employees in 2009/12 and 5.2 per cent of the public sector in 2009-12/2018-20. They were also over-represented among the self-employed, despite some erosion — 20.3 per cent in 2009-12 and 19.1 per cent in 2018-20.In some states, the erosion of the share of Muslims among the self-employed is even more pronounced. As a result, they are under-represented not only in the public sector but also among the self-employed. In Gujarat, where Muslims are 10 per cent of the society, their share in public sector employment has come down from 7 per cent to a minuscule 1.5 per cent. Amongst entrepreneurs, their share has dropped from 12.5 per cent in 2010 to 9 per cent in 2020.In Assam, where Muslims account for 34.2 per cent of the population as per the 2011 Census, they have always been significantly under-represented — 17.4 employees in the public sector and 19.32 per cent in 2018-20. They were around 30 per cent of the self-employed in the period under review.The declining representation of Muslims, not only in the public sector but also among the “self-employed” suggests that they are now increasingly overrepresented among the unemployed. The share of Muslims deemed as jobless in the NSS surveys under review jumped from 2.62 per cent in 2009-10 to 7.16 per cent in 2018-19.Jaffrelot is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London, and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Saini is a Data Analyst & Researcher on Indian politics

A workforce less diverse
Gujarat Assembly polls: Congress announces ‘page commandos’ to take on BJP’s page committees
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am

Following the footsteps of the BJP, the Gujarat Congress has instructed its workers to form page commandos to prepare voters’ lists, identify the party’s voters and ensure they reach the polling stations. With Assembly elections around the corner, the instruction came at the party’s ‘maru booth maru gaurav’ (my booth, my pride) event in Surat Tuesday. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot who was to visit Surat and Rajkot on Tuesday to meet Congress leaders for the first time after being appointed senior observer, could not come. The special plane he was flying in, from Jaipur, was reportedly not allowed to land in Surat due to bad weather. He has now rescheduled his visit for Wednesday when he will only go to Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Gehlot will land in Vadodara Wednesday morning and meet Central Gujarat leaders and then head to Ahmedabad to meet north Gujarat leaders and is then expected to address a press conference.“Today, we have come up with matdar yadi (voters’ list) of 35 assembly seats of South Gujarat and handed them over to the district heads. A single page of matdar yadi (voting member list) consists of 30 voters. The page commandos should identify at least 19 Congress voters from the list and take them to polling stations for voting and also see who are left over and repeat it. It is the duty of page commandos to see nobody is left from the voting list. Generally, the average voting turnout of the assembly seat is between 65 to 70 per cent. We have to target those who had not voted and take them to polling stations as they are the voters of the Congress. If the voters’ turnout increases by 20 per cent, then we are sure to win 125 seats in the Gujarat assembly elections,” said state Congress President Jagdish Thakor. He added that in the Udaipur meeting, it was decided to form a new structure of organisation. In the city area, the ward committee will be treated as mandals and the polling booth committee will be treated as sector, while in the rural Talukas, panchayat seats will be treated as mandals and district panchayat seats as sectors.He also alleged that Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who was to begin his three-day state visit and attend the event in South Gujarat, was denied landing permission at Surat airport Tuesday citing poor weather conditions. “I am afraid they will not allow us to organise a rally here like they did not allow the landing of Gehlot’s aircraft at the Surat airport today. He has been ready since 9.30 am in the morning to attend the first political meeting in Surat, but his aircraft was denied landing. Today, we have come to know what will happen if an airport is sold or privatised. The decision to give permission for flying and landing of aircraft lies with the airport authority,” he said.Thakor also announced various steps to begin the election campaign in the state from August 20. He urged workers to make elaborate arrangements for the rallies of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “Around one lakh people should participate in the rally with 25,000 bikes and 10,000 cars,” he said.In a veiled reference to Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil, Thakor further said, “The Surat man is moving around the state and talking about the page committee and page president but it is all false. Their internal party survey says that the party will not cross 70 seats in the elections.”Gujarat, earlier known after leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and for its cooperative movement, has now become a hub of drugs, said All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary BM Sandeep. “In the past four to five months, drugs worth over Rs 40,000 crore were seized from Gujarat ports. Through media reports and sources, we have come to know that drugs worth over Rs 2 lakh crore landed at Gujarat ports and were supplied to different parts of the country.”He added that the party has toured across the 35 assembly seats of South Gujarat. “During the last assembly elections, we (Congress) could not form the government due to the poor performance in South Gujarat. A majority of the area in the region are tribal and they face great problems such as land acquisitions for different development projects like the bullet train, Vedanta project, leopard park, Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking project, Express highway project, etc,” he said, emphasising the need to organise meetings with the tribal communities in different parts of South Gujarat.Dr. Raghu Sharma, Gujarat Congress incharge, said his party had already discussed the announcements made by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in the state. “Kejriwal should go to Rajasthan and see how the health infrastructure is. Insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh is given to the citizens. During the covid pandemic, the work done by the Rajasthan government was excellent and the work was appreciated by PM Narendra Modi,” he said.

Gujarat Assembly polls: Congress announces ‘page commandos’ to take on BJP’s page committees
‘Advocates’ of Indian Independence and the Bombay High Court
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am

As the country celebrates the 76th year of Indian Independence, the historical 160-year-old Bombay High Court stands tall in the nationalist movement with its strong association with prominent freedom fighters. It is from this court where most of them began their legal career before they took a plunge into politics while some were tried in the court in cases that had an impact on India’s freedom movement.The roll call is both impressive and inspiring – Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Lokmanya Tilak, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Vitthalbhai Patel, Bhulabhai Desai, K M Munshi, Justice M G Ranade, Justice Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta among many others.  Their enrolment certificates, plaques, and portraits tracing back to their stints before coming to the High Court are an integral part of the majestic building. Maharashtra Tourism Department conducts heritage walks through the building on non-working weekends. Courtroom number 46, known as Central Court in which the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court currently sits, houses portraits of Gandhiji, Tilak and Ambedkar.On returning to India after his higher studies, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar started his law practice at the Bombay High Court in July 1923.  Senior advocate Avinash J Rana in his book The Bombay High Court: A chronicle of judges and lawyers’ writes, “Ambedkar did not have a large practice (in HC)… But there is no gainsaying that he was a man of immense scholarship, the range of his reading and knowledge was not confined to the law and included history, sociology and economics…”“..At one stage, owing to his learning and status in public life, there was a possibility of Ambedkar being appointed a judge of the High Court,” says P B Vachha, in his book Famous Judges, Lawyers and Cases of Bombay (A Judicial History of Bombay during the British Period).Ambedkar argued several cases as a lawyer before various courts. One of them includes the 1926 Keshavrao Jedhe-Dinkarrao Javalkar case, wherein Javalkar, belonging to the Non-brahmin movement in the state, had authored a book called Deshache Dushman (Enemies of the Country), which criticised Tilak and Vishnushatri Chiplunkar for their views on non-brahmin communities. Jedhe was a publisher of the book.  The trial court convicted the duo, after which Ambedkar represented them in appeal arguing that Tilak and Chiplunkar were not alive and the third party cannot file defamation cases. This was accepted by the judge and set Jedhe and Javalkar free.Among other cases, Ambedkar, in 1933 defended social reformist Raghunath Dhondo Karve, who was charged with obscenity for publishing certain content in a magazine called Samaj Swasthya to create awareness about sexual health, birth control, among others.Ambedkar became the Principal of the Government Law College in 1935 and was later elected to the Constituent Assembly and became the chairman of the Drafting Committee and also became the first Law Minister of independent India.Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi, came back from England after becoming a barrister and immediately applied to the Bombay High Court on November 16, 1891. He practised for a short time in Mumbai Small Cause Court and went to Rajkot to practice. In 1922, he was sentenced to six years in prison for sedition based on his writings and was later released in 1924 due to medical reasons. After the sentence, his name was removed from the Roll of Inner Temple, London, and immediately, the then Bombay government placed the Inner Temple order before the Bombay High Court. Subsequently, his name was deleted as an advocate of the High Court on January 17, 1923.Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, who became the Union Minister and Governor of Uttar Pradesh in Independent India, had practised before the High Court from 1913 and joined the chamber of Bhulabhai Desai, another proponent of Indian freedom. As per the High Court archives, Munshi was in close association with Tilak, Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Sardar Patel.  Munshi was a member of the Constituent Assembly, which framed the Constitution and later became a founding member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Desai, who acted as the Advocate General in 1926 for a short time, later defended accused military officers in Indian National Army (INA) trial in 1945-46 towards the end of the Second World War.Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, after he returned to India from England, applied to the Bombay High Court on February 14, 1913 and was enrolled the next day. He, however, did not practice in Bombay but successfully practised at Barsod, Gujarat. Within a few years, he entered active politics in 1917 and was one of the leading freedom fighters and also responsible for integrating native states into the Union of India as the first Home Minister of the country. His elder brother Vitthalbhai Patel, who was the co-founder of ‘Swaraj Party’ had long practice at the Bombay High Court since July 1908.“In spite of the verdict of the jury I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destinies of men and nations and it may be the will of providence that the cause which I represent may prosper more by my suffering than by my remaining free.” These are words of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which are engraved on a marble commemorative plaque outside the Central Court on the second floor of the HC building.  The declaration came as the last words of Tilak, one of the prominent leaders of India’s fight for freedom at his historic trial in 1908 in the Central Court.  After finding him guilty, an Indian judge sentenced Tilak to six years of transportation to Mandalay, Burma, and fined him Rs 1000. Tilak faced three sedition trials in the Bombay High Court.In 1897, he was charged with sedition for writing articles and speeches and the British government had alleged that the killings of its two officers, including Collector W C Rand, who was responsible for plague measures in Poona (now Pune) were due to Tilak’s incitement. Tilak was initially granted bail by the High Court and was later found guilty by the jury, sentencing him to 18-month imprisonment. Interestingly, the judge who announced Tilak’s sentence in the second trial, Justice Dinshaw D Davar, had represented him in his first trial in 1897.In 1916, Tilak was prosecuted for the third time on the charges of sedition, when he was represented for the second time by the then renowned lawyer Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was convinced that Tilak had been prosecuted for his strong views about Home Rule and independence for India and defended him, which led to Tilak’s acquittal by the High Court and was ordered to furnish a bond of Rs 20, 000 of “good behaviour.”Mahadeo Govind Ranade was Tilak’s senior in Congress from Pune. After completing his LL.B in 1866, Ranade enrolled as an advocate of the High Court around 1870.  However, he never practised as an advocate and immediately joined the judicial services and served as magistrate and judge of small causes, before he was elevated as High Court judge in 1892.Owing to his constant run-ins with the then British government due to his political and social work, his promotion was delayed.  He founded the Widow Remarriage Association in 1866 and was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress (INC), in 1885.  In 1887, Ranade founded National Social Conference, INC’s social reform cell that discussed and deliberated resolutions passed, including those about marriage age, ill-assorted marriages, polygamy, caste marriages, female education, and so on.“Ranade, besides being a very able and erudite judge, was also a great scholar and made outstanding contributions to Indian history, particularly the history of Maharashtra and also the history of Marathi literature,” Vachha writes.In a largely attended public meeting in then Bombay to mourn Ranade’s death in 1901, his colleague was present. Tyabji, who returned to India in 1867, was the first Indian barrister to practice in the Bombay High Court in its Original jurisdiction and its first Indian barrister judge (which before his time was exclusively in the hands of English barristers). He was elevated to a judge in 1895. “He made a strong, hard-headed and independent judge, ” P B Vachha notes. “Before he was raised to the bench, Tyabji was very well known in public life for the active part he took in all contemporary movements, political, civic, social, and educational, particularly Muslim education, in promoting which he spared no time. He had the distinction of being the first Muslim President of the Indian National Congress (in 1887),” Vachha adds.In 1902, he became the first Indian to hold the post of Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. Tyabji, who was considered among the moderate Muslims in the Indian freedom movement, worked to weaken the Zenana system and campaigned against the ‘purdah’ system.In 1885, he founded the Bombay Presidency Association with K T Telang and Pherozeshah Mehta. “The great triumvirate of Kashinath Trimbak Telang (HC judge), Sir Pherozeshah Mehta ( HC advocate), and Badruddin Tyabji – a Hindu, a Parsi, and a Muslim – each a leader of his own community, each intellectually brilliant, each a first-class public speaker and fired by Indian nationalism, where caste, creed, and religion had no place whatsoever,” Senior advocate Iqbal Chagla writes in a chapter called ‘The renaissance men in robes’ in a book Heritage of Judging: The Bombay High Court through one hundred and fifty years.While the country celebrated the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign on Independence Day, the Bombay High Court on the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, had witnessed a one-of-a-kind event, where HC’s last British Chief Justice Sir Leonard Stone unfurled and saluted the Indian National flag inside the Central Court and also a larger flag was hoisted on the premises thereafter. Stone continued as the Chief Justice for another year before Justice Mahommedali Currim Chagla took over as first Indian Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court in 1948.

‘Advocates’ of Indian Independence and the Bombay High Court
Bilkis Bano Case: Opposition Slams BJP, PM Modi Over Convicts' Release
Ndtv | 7 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:39 pm
Ndtv
7 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:39 pm

"We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released," Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul said.Ahmedabad/New Delhi: The ruling BJP on Tuesday faced the Opposition fire over the release of 11 people convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 post-Godhra riots, while its government in Gujarat defended the move citing a 1992 remission policy and denied any violation of rules in the matter.While the convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment, walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy, and spoke about starting a new life, Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul expressed surprise over the relief granted to them.Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang raped while fleeing the violence that broke out post the Sabarmati train burning incident in Godhra. Seven members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.After their release on completion of more than 15 years in jail, the convicts, who were also charged with killing the pregnant woman's three-year-old daughter, were welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the prison."We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released," Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul told PTI."We don't know when the convicts processed their application and which ruling the state government took into consideration. We never received any kind of notice," Mr Rasul said.Mr Rasul said the Gujarat government had paid the family a compensation of Rs 50 lakh as directed by the Supreme Court, but is yet to provide a job or a house as directed by the top court.Mr Rasul said he lives virtually in hiding with his wife and five sons, the eldest one 20 years old.A special CBI court in Mumbai in 2008 sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.Radheshyam Shah, the convict whose plea for premature release paved the way for all the 11 life sentence convicts to walk out of jail, said he feels happy to be released."The Gujarat government has released us as per the order of the Supreme Court. I feel glad to be out as I will be able to meet my family members and begin a new life," he said.In New Delhi, Opposition parties hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the release of the convicts within hours of his praise for "Nari Shakti" in the Independence Day speech and alleged this is the "real face" of 'New India" under the BJP.They said the remission for the convicts, serving life imprisonment for the gang rape of a pregnant Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members, was a violation of the Centre's guidelines and demanded the withdrawal of the order.Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Prime Minister Modi should tell the country if he himself believed in his words when he spoke about the safety, respect and empowerment of women."The BJP government in Gujarat released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. This decision brings out the BJP government's mindset," he told reporters in the national capital."Yesterday, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister spoke big things about women's safety, women's power, women's respect. A few hours later the Gujarat government released those behind the rape. We also saw that the convicts in the rape who were released are being honoured. Is this the Amrit Mahotsav," Mr Khera said.In a tweet, the CPI(M) condemned the release of the convicts, saying "This is the real face of New India -- convicted killers and rapists released" and activist Teesta Setalvad "who fought for justice was jailed".Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale said Bilkis Bano was "raped in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and her entire family was murdered and buried in a mass grave"."Gujarat govt has now released all 11 monsters who were convicted of this heinous crime. Where's the outrage by people & the Noida media? Not even a whimper," he tweeted.All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi also targeted Prime Minister Modi over their release.In his Independence Day speech, Modi had asked Indians to take a pledge not to do anything that lowers the dignity of women, Owaisi said."He said something about supporting 'Nari Shakti'. Gujarat BJP govt released criminals convicted of gang rape on the same day. The message is clear," Mr Owaisi tweeted.Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali also referred to the prime minister's remarks and said the release of the 11 convicts has exposed the huge gap between words and the spirit of justice.However, the Gujarat government defended the move, saying the convicts were released as per the remission policy prevalent in the state at the time of their conviction in 2008 and rejected claims of contravention of the Centre's guidelines in the matter."These 11 persons were convicted by a special court in Mumbai in 2008. At the time of conviction, Gujarat was following a remission policy which came into effect in 1992. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, it directed us to decide about the release under the 1992 policy, because that was prevalent when conviction came in 2008," Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Raj Kumar, told PTI in Ahmedabad.Gujarat adopted a new and revised remission policy for prisoners in 2014. In that policy, which is currently in effect, there are detailed guidelines about categories of convicts who can or can not be given relief, said the senior bureaucrat."Since the conviction took place in 2008, the SC directed us to consider this case under the 1992 policy, which was in effect in 2008. That policy did not have any specific clarity as to who can be given remission and who can not. That policy was not that detailed in comparison to the 2014 policy," said the IAS officer.Lawyers also said the SC order directing the Gujarat government to consider the remission of the sentence as per the July 1992 policy paved the way for the premature release of the convicts.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comAs per the current policy, a person convicted for both gang rape and murder can not be released prematurely, but the 1992 policy had no such bar, a lawyer said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Bilkis Bano Case: Opposition Slams BJP, PM Modi Over Convicts' Release
Your Daily Wrap: Bihar Cabinet expansion; Karnataka minister’s audio clip row; and more
The Indian Express | 8 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 10:50 pm
The Indian Express
8 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 10:50 pm

As the 11 convicted for life in the gangrape of Bilkis Bano, and the murder of seven members of her family, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, walked out of jail on Tuesday, the Congress lashed out at the BJP government, calling the state government order “unprecedented”. With Tuesday marking the death anniversary of A B Vajpayee, Congress leader Pawan Khera said he wanted to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi again of the Raj Dharma that the former PM had talked about during his visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots. In May this year, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government to decide, within two months, an application filed by one of the men found guilty in the Bilkis case. The convict had sought “premature” release from prison, where he had spent more than 15 years following conviction in January 2008. A look at what happened to Bilkis in 2002, what the CBI found in its investigation, and how the trial in the case proceeded.In Bihar, 31 ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s brother Tej Pratap Yadav, took oath as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet today. The swearing-in of the 31 ministers reflects the RJD’s attempt at implementing its “MY (Muslim-Yadav)-plus” strategy while the Janata Dal (United) has stuck to its reliable OBC-EBC-Dalit-Upper caste combination.A controversy has erupted in Karnataka following the emergence of an audio recording linked to Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, who allegedly said the government in the state is not functioning and that the BJP is just managing things until the 2023 Assembly polls. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, however, sought to downplay the minister’s remarks by claiming that the said comments were made in a specific context to the cooperative sector and that everything else was all right in the government. Last year, Madhuswamy’s name was in contention to replace Yediyurappa as CM. Yet, the very qualities that made Madhuswamy a top choice in the books of some in the BJP were also held against him by others in the party — he was too independent, abrasive, outspoken and, crucially, lacked roots in the Sangh Parivar.In the world of Tech: Google executives reportedly warned employees of possible layoffs if the end quarter results don’t look good. A screenshot viewed by Insider reveals that Google Cloud sales leadership threatened its employees, saying there will be an “overall examination of sales productivity and productivity in general” and that if next quarter’s results “don’t look up, there will be blood on the streets.” Meanwhile, Apple laid off many of its contract-based recruiters in the past week, part of a push to rein in the tech giant’s hiring and spending. The recruiters were responsible for hiring new employees for Apple, and the cuts underscore that a slowdown is underway at the company.Political PulseIn the political silence in India over the attack on author Salman Rushdie, leaving him critically injured, the most deafening is of the ruling BJP. While the BJP would have been expected to react to the attack on Rushdie, party leaders – who did not want to come on record – said the circumstances had changed. A conscious decision has been taken by the party now to refrain from commenting on any incident involving international ramifications. The situation has been further complicated by the recent fiasco surrounding statements by its spokesperson Nupur Sharma (since suspended), as well as its mixed feelings about the writer himself who has been critical of the Narendra Modi government. Liz Mathew reports. More From Political PulseOnce burnt, twice shy: What the BJP silence on Rushdie attack tells usJakhars of Abohar: In Warring's crosshairs, Congress MLA and Sunil Jakhar's nephew Sandeep dares party to expel himBihar Cabinet decoded: RJD’s ‘MY-plus’ push, JD(U) sticks to tried-and-tested 11Click here for more From the Urdu Press: As India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence, a tidal wave of patriotism swept through the Urdu press, that sought to map the arc of the country’s remarkable journey, its accomplishments and failings, since 1947. The leading Urdu dailies also expressed concerns over widening faultlines in the country, fearing for the future of democracy and constitutionalism — and the fate of minorities — amid a growing atmosphere of division and hate. The horrifying attack on Salman Rushdie in New York, however, met with silence in their editorial pages, although they ran news reports on the stab assault and follow-up stories.Express ExplainedA day after a made-in-India howitzer gun, the ATAGS, was used for the first time in the ceremonial 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday handed over several new defence systems, including the F-INSAS, the Nipun mines, the Landing Craft Assault (LCA), to the Army. What is the F-INSAS system, and what are Nipun mines? Read here. Best of ExplainedIndependence Day over, here's how to store the National Flag Police to visit Ranveer's home, what obscenity laws did he break?Ola likely to launch an electric car in 2024, what we know about itClick here for more The remains of an Army jawan, Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Harbol, were found on the Siachen Glacier on August 15, more than 38 years after he went missing in an avalanche. The avalanche had claimed the lives of 18 soldiers of the 19th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment while they were out on a mission. What was this mission, for which the 18 soldiers had volunteered knowing fully well the risk they were running? What was the role that 19 Kumaon played in cementing India’s claim over the Siachen Glacier? We explain.

Your Daily Wrap: Bihar Cabinet expansion; Karnataka minister’s audio clip row; and more