CK Raulji, who had described the Bilkis Bano case convicts as Brahmin men with good sanskar, or values, has been fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party as its candidate from the Godhra constituency for the Gujarat Assembly polls, reported NDTV on Friday.

Bilkis Bano was gangraped on March 3, 2002, during the riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter, were murdered by the rioters near Ahmedabad. One of the men snatched the girl from her mother’s arms and smashed her head on a rock.

On August 15, all 11 men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case were released from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy.

A six-time MLA from the Godhra constituency, Raulji had caused an uproar in August after he said that the convicts in the case were good men. “I don’t know whether they committed the crime or not...” he had said in an interview. “Their conduct in jail was good, they were with good sanskaar [values].”

The decision to release the convicts was based on the recommendation of the Godhra Jail Advisory Committee formed by the Gujarat government under the guidelines of the Supreme Court. Raulji, who was part of the panel, had said that in cases of communal violence, innocent persons are often targeted.

Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and December 5. The results will be declared on December 8 along with the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.