One of the 11 men who was convicted in the Bilkis Bano case and was released prematurely last year was on Saturday seen at a government event with two Bharatiya Janta Party legislators in Gujarat’s Dahod district, NDTV reported on Monday.

Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt, who was released from jail on August 15, was seen sharing the stage with Dahod MP Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and his brother, Limkheda MLA Shailesh Bhabhor on March 25. Bhatt was seen posing with the two BJP leaders for photos and participating in the foundation stone laying ceremony for a water pipeline project.

(Credit: Shailesh Bhabhor/Twitter)
Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt on stage with BJP MP Jasvantsinh Bhabhor (wearing turban) and Shailesh Bhabhor (in white on extreme right)

Eleven men had been convicted for gangraping Bano in a village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, during the communal riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed against the ground by the perpetrators.

The convicts were released on August 15 from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy. The Supreme Court will hear of batch a petitions against their release on Monday.

Bano’s husband Yakub Rasool told The Quint that he was not surprised by the photos.

“These people [convicts] were felicitated the moment they stepped out of the jail,” he said. “We are not surprised to see them share stage with those in power. Our only hope for justice is the Supreme Court now.”

Also read: In Godhra, Bilkis Bano convicts felicitated by RSS member soon after their release

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Sunday shared a photo of the event on Twitter and wrote she wanted to see “these monsters back in jail and the key thrown away”.

“And I want this satanic government that applauds this travesty of justice voted out,” she added. “I want India to reclaim her moral compass.”

Also read: Gujarat ignored trial court’s opinion as board with five BJP members set Bilkis Bano convicts free