India rape: Gujarat frees 11 men convicted of gang-raping pregnant Muslim woman

Panchmahals’ top bureaucrat told Reuters that the district jail advisory committee had recommended the release after considering the time the 11 had spent in jail and their good behavior.

“The fact is they had spent close to 15 years in jail and were eligible for remission,” Sujal Jayantibhai Mayatra said.

Indian laws allow convicts to seek remission after 14 years in jail, officials said.

Media footage showed a man feeding the convicts sweetmeat outside the jail after touching the feet of one of them, a mark of respect.

The widower of the victim told Reuters they were disappointed because the riots had also killed many family members.

“We have lost our family and want to live in peace, but suddenly this has happened,” Yakub Rasul said. “We had no prior information about their release, either from the courts or the government. We only learnt about it from the media.”

Opposition politicians and lawyers said the release contradicted the government’s stated policy of uplifting women in a country notorious for violence against them.

“The remission of the sentence of convicts of a gruesome crime like gang-rape and murder is morally and ethically improper,” said senior lawyer Anand Yagnik. “What is the signal we are trying to send?”