Gujarat riots: ‘They raped me, butchered my child because we were Muslims. 17 years on, I have justice – and faith in Indian law’

When the cargo truck carrying Bilkis Bano and her family shuddered to a halt in the Dahod district of Gujarat, India, the young mother was so afraid of what was about to happen that her shivering woke her three-year-old daughter, Saleha.

Bano, still just a teenager herself, rocked the wailing child but could not comfort her. Within seconds a mob of men armed with swords and sickles tore Saleha from her arms and smashed her skull against a rock, silencing her forever.

“Here are the Muslims, kill them, cut them,” chanted the men, most of whom Bano recognised. They were the Hindu residents of her village, men she had once addressed as brothers and uncles. She had known them since she was the same age as Saleha.…