A day after Supreme Court asked the Gujarat government to provide her with Rs 50 lakh compensation, Bilkis Bano said on Wednesday she wants to use a portion of the compensation money to create a fund to help other women who are victims of rape and communal violence.
“I want to give the money I have received from the Supreme Court to help in the battles of other sisters like me who have been victims and for the education of their children,” Bano said. She added that she will name the fund after Saleha, her three-year-old daughter who was killed by the mob which gangraped her and killed six other members of her family during the 2002 riots.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday directed the Gujarat government to provide the exemplary compensation to Bano and her family within two weeks, along with a government job and accommodation of her choice.
“We never got back Saleha’s body, we couldn’t even bury her and perform her final rites, and for that I am filled with sorrow till this day. Her spirit is still wandering and I want for her to be at peace. Perhaps this judgment will help bring some kind of peace,” Bano told reporters in Delhi. She said the Supreme Court’s direction was significant for her because it acknowledged what she had been through.
“The court has accepted the sadness that I have had to bear, and the suffering that I’ve gone through. That this has been recognised is a big thing for me… I have had a very long struggle of 17 years but I have always believed that I would get justice. I had belief in the Constitution and the legal system,” she said.
Bano spoke of another daughter of hers — Hazra, 16. Bano was five-months pregnant with her when she was attacked and raped. “She (Hazra) had decided a few years back that she wants to be a lawyer. I want her to be educated and become a lawyer, so that she can help other women at the Supreme Court,” she said.
The exemplary compensation had been sought by Bano through a Special Leave Petition for “damages to her Constitutional right to life; right to bodily integrity; right to be protected by the State; and right to seek justice for wrongs suffered by her”.
On Tuesday, Bano voted for the first time in 17 years at a polling booth in Devgadh Baria, a town in Gujarat’s Dahod district. After receiving news of the Supreme Court order reached her, she had said, “I am thankful to the Supreme Court. Now we can lead a stable life. I can settle at one place and move on in life. My children will be spared constant relocation.”