Bilkis Bano rape case: Gujarat govt initates action against five convicted policemen

Explaining the role of Bhagora, Shobha Gupta, the counsel for Bilkis Bano, told The Indian Express, “On March 3, 2002, IPS officer R S Bhagora brought Bano to constable Somabhai and recorded her statement, in which he intentionally removed all 12 names of the accused.”

The Gujarat government has told the Supreme Court that it has initiated action against all the five police officers, including IPS officer R S Bhagora, convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case of 2002 riots.

In a first, the state government has initiated proceedings to demote the IPS officer as directed by the apex court within four weeks of its April 23 order.

Bhagora, an officer of the Gujarat state cadre, is currently posted as Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Ahmedabad West, which considered an important office. Bhagora was promoted to the IPS in 2007.

He was deputy superintendent of police of Limkheda taluka in Dahod district during 2002 riots, and was investigating officer of the gangrape case. Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Dahod district on March 3, 2002, during post-Godhra riots. While 14 members of her family were hacked to death, Bano, who was pregnant at that time, was gangraped by several men, who then left her, assuming she was dead.

Bhagora had been charged of tampering evidence and trying to derail the investigation.

In 2008, a Mumbai trial court had acquitted him, four other policemen and a doctor couple while convicting 11 others.

However, the Bombay High Court, which heard the appeal, convicted all the seven acquitted by the trial court and also upheld the conviction of 11 others.

Brajesh Kumar Jha, Secretary (Home) in the Gujarat government, told The Indian Express that it has already moved a file for demoting Bhagora to the Central government. “Since Bhagora is an IPS officer, the decision to demote him will be taken by the Central government. We have completed the proceedings on our part and informed the Supreme Court,” Jha said. As per SC’s order, the Gujarat government has “recommended punishment of demotion by two stages for RS Bhagora”.

Explaining the role of Bhagora, Shobha Gupta, the counsel for Bilkis Bano, told The Indian Express, “On March 3, 2002, Bhagora brought Bano to constable Somabhai and recorded her statement, in which he intentionally removed all 12 names of the accused. Then on March 6, district collector Jayanti Ravi visited the camp and took her statement again, in which all accused were named. Ravi had then forwarded the file to Dahod SP for action who then forwarded the file again to Bhagora. Despite repeated reminders , Bhagora did nothing till July 2002, and eventually filed the closure report, saying that the event is true but undetected and the accused are untraceable. The Bombay High Court judgment had called the role of police officials as callous.”

Source: The Indian Express

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