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Sad story of gang-raped girl who woke up to find 14 family members dead

By Mirror | Published Fri, May 5th 2017 at 10:28, Updated May 5th 2017 at 10:33 GMT +3

A pregnant teenager who was gang-raped and woke up to find 14 of her family dead around her has bravely fought for justice for 15 years.

Bilkis Bano was just 19 in 2002 when she was assaulted and left to die during horrific violence in Gujarat, India.

Today a court in India has not only upheld the conviction of 11 people for their involvement in the brutal crime, but convicted seven others for attempting to interfere in the case.

The victims - including Bilkis's two-year-old daughter - were brutally killed when horrifying communal violence engulfed central Gujarat.

The appalling ordeal began when 17 people were riding in a truck, trying to flee the trouble, including Bilkis and her two-year-old daughter.

The young mum was also five months pregnant at the time.

An armed mob of 35 descended on the truck and around three hours later, Bilkis woke up naked among the dead bodies of her relatives.

Her daughter's head had been smashed while Bilkis had been gang-raped and left for dead.

“I found myself naked," she said in a statement reported in India Today .

"I saw dead bodies of my family members lying around. I got frightened. I looked around for some cloth to cover myself.

"I felt that I was saved by God."

Bilkis managed to take refuge with an Adivasi (tribal) family in the hills.

She is one of thousands of women who have been raped during communal violence in the country, but many never see justice.

The 19-year-old was not deterred by the fact not a single rape that has occurred during a riot since Indian Independence had led to a conviction.

Bilkis then approached the National Human Rights Commission, and even petitioned the Supreme Court, which ordered a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) prober.

Bilkis' fight went on for four more years.

The case was taken to a Mumbai court, and the central government was asked to appoint a prosecutor.

Charges were filed against 19 people, six police officers, and a government doctor.

It was only in January 2008 that 11 men were sentenced to life imprisonment for rape and murder.

Those convictions have now been upheld - though a bid to have three of them given the death penalty was rejected by Bombay High Court today.

It set aside the acquittal of seven persons, including doctors and policemen, and convicted them for tampering with evidence in the case, The Times of India added.




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