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Mathura preps to hang a female convict first time in independent India

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Mathura: Preparations have been started in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district jail to hang a woman for the first time in the history of independent India, as per reports.

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Shabnam Ali, 38, was convicted of killing seven members of her family; her mother, father, two brothers, sister-in-law, cousin and 10-month-old nephew, by serving them milk laced with sedatives and then slitting their throats. She was just 25-year-old when she committed the heinous crime.

Shabnam, who is a double MA, wanted to marry Saleem, a class VI dropout, but as her family did not approve their relationship they conspired the killings. Both were sentenced to death in 2010 by the sessions court in Amroha, UP, where they are from.

Over the next 11 years, Shabnam knocked doors of nearly every court and pleaded everyone in authority to escape the punishment. She went to the Allahabad high court, the Supreme Court, the President and then the Supreme Court (SC) again. In January last year, her review petition was dismissed by the SC. However, she has not exhausted all judicial remedies.

However, legal experts believe that all of this is not definitive yet and: “Shabnam could still seek another judicial review of the petition in SC. She could also file a curative petition,” SC lawyer Sarthak Chaturvedi said adding, “No one can be hanged until all legal remedies are exhausted.”

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Though her lawyer denies of any information on death warrant being issued in the one year since, at the Mathura district jail, the only one in the country where women can be hanged, preparations are afoot.

“We have not received any death warrant but have started preparing, ” said Shabnam’s lawyer.

Last year in February, the executioner, Pawan Jallad, had inspected the hanging house and had suggested some fixture to the 150-year-old collapsing structure of gallows. Built around 1871, the gallows has never been used in independent India.

“He said that there was a problem with the structure of the gallows. We are fixing that now. We have also just ordered two hanging ropes from Bihar’s Buxar central jail,” Mathura senior jail superintendent Shailendra Maitrey told media on Wednesday.

Built around 1871, the gallows has never been used in independent India. Step-sisters Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit have been on death row for kidnapping 13 children and killing at least five of them. A woman from UP’s capital city Lucknow, Ramshri, had been sentenced to death in 1998 but it was commuted to life imprisonment after she gave birth to a child in prison. So, given to the fact the hanging house, with falling out structure is covered in overgrowth with decades of obsolescence, would take a while to set in order should a death warrant be issued.

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An official involved in the preparations revealed that the Amroha sessions court, which had first sentenced Shabnam to death, has been moved for execution of the sentence. Shabnam is incarcerated at Rampur jail. “Mathura jail officials have been asked to start preparing. That’s what they are doing,” the official added.

To execute Shabnam, Pawan Jallad, the fourth-generation executioner who had hanged the Nirbhaya rapists last year, is currently in Mathura. “It is god’s will. I am just an instrument,” he told media there.

To note, Pawan’s great grandfather Laxman Ram had hanged revolutionary hero Bhagat Singh, whereas his father Kallu had hanged Indira Gandhi’s assassins and Ranga and Billa, while his father Mammu was the state hangman for 47 years.

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