New Delhi: Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, the BJP MP from Gujarat’s Dahod, and his brother Shaileshbhai Bhabhor, the BJP MLA from Limkheda, on Saturday (March 25) shared a stage with Shailesh Bhatt – one of the 11 men convicted for raping Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots and released on parole by the Gujarat government.
Both Jaswantsinh and Shaileshbhai tweeted pictures of the launch of a Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) project in Karmadi village in Singvad taluka of Dahod district, and Bilkis’s husband Yakub Rasool confirmed to The Quint that one of the men on stage was Bhatt.
“These people (convicts) were felicitated the moment they stepped out of the jail. We are not surprised to see them share stage with those in power. Our only hope for justice is the Supreme Court now,” Rasool told the portal.
દાહોદ જીલ્લાના લીમખેડા તાલુકા ખાતે કડાણા ડેમ બલ્ક પાઈપલાઈન આધારિત લીમખેડા જૂથ પાણી પુરવઠા યોજના અંતર્ગત અંદાજીત રકમ ૧૦૧.૮૯ કરોડના કામોનું ભૂમિ પૂજન કર્યું. જેમાં લીમખેડા તાલુકાના ૪૩ ગામ, સિંગવડ તાલુકાના ૧૮ ગામ તથા ઝાલોદ તાલુકાના ૩ ગામને આ યોજનાનો લાભ મળશે.#MemberofParliament pic.twitter.com/sPxZR9VcsK
— Jasvantsinh Bhabhor (@jsbhabhor) March 25, 2023
આજરોજ પૂર્વ કેન્દ્રીય મંત્રી અને દાહોદ સાંસદ શ્રી @jsbhabhor સાહેબ દ્વારા કડાણા ડેમ બલ્ક પાઈપલાઈન આધારિત લીમખેડા જૂથ પાણી પુરવઠા યોજનાનું અંદાજીત રકમ ૧૦૧.૮૯ કરોડના કામોનું ભૂમિપૂજન લીમખેડા ખાતે કરવામાં આવ્યું..#shaileshbhabhor #MLAGujarat #limkheda #BJPGujarat #Dahod #bjp pic.twitter.com/qd790S1pzq
— Shailesh Bhabhor (@ssbhabhor) March 25, 2023
According to the Indian Express, in photographs of the event released by the Dahod District Information Department, Bhatt is seated in the front row, between Jaswantsinh and Kanta Damor, president of the Singvad taluka panchayat.
“It (GWSSB) was a public event that I attended… I don’t have anything else to say,” Bhatt told the Indian Express.
While Jaswantsinh refused to comment, Shaileshbhai reportedly said, “Being the MLA, I was so busy at the event that I did not see who else was sitting on the dais. I will check if he (Bhatt) was present at the event.”
Pradeep Parmar, Deputy Engineer of the GWSSB, Dahod, told the Indian Express that he did not know who had invited Bhatt, “The invitations are not sent out by the water supply department even if the event is organised by us… The taluka panchayat members would have invited the guests. We do not know who decided the seating on the dais. It is possible that the local engineer of the GWSSB in Limkheda would have been privy to the list.”
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra reacted sharply to the incident, calling Bhatt a “monster” who should be put back in jail.
Bilkis Bano’s Rapist Shares Stage With Gujarat’s BJP MP, MLA.
I want to see these monsters back in jail & the key thrown away. And I want this satanic government that applauds this travesty of justice voted out. I want India to reclaim her moral compass. pic.twitter.com/noaoz1c7ZW
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) March 26, 2023
Bilkis Bano and others have file pleas in the Supreme Court against the early release of the 11 convicts. The court is supposed to hear the petitions on Monday.