The Mathura district jail in western Uttar Pradesh is preparing for the possibility that Shabnam, a woman convicted of killing her family in 2008, may be ordered hanged soon, said a senior prison official Akhilesh Kumar. If the death sentence is carried out as expected by prison officials, Shabnam may be the first convict to be hanged in prison since Independence.
Preparations are ongoing at the Mathura District Jail for the possible hanging of Shabnam, said Akhilesh Kumar, Deputy Inspector General of Agras (Prison).
Shabnam and her boyfriend Salim were sentenced to death for calming seven members of her family and cutting her throat on the night of April 14, 2008. Among the dead was a 10-month-old baby. He drowned.
The Shabnams family was against her relationship with Salim because of the change in their social and economic status. Shabnam was a schoolteacher, Salim a 6th grader.
Shabnam, then 24, and Salim were arrested within days of the killings. The couple was sentenced to death by the trial court in 2010; the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015. Their request for pardon was also rejected by Rashtrapati Bhavan. In January 2020, the Supreme Court also rejected their requests for review, noting that Saleem had duly executed the murder after Shabnam administered sleeping pills in tea.
The devil was eager to see that no legal heir other than Shabnam survived. They wanted to take the property of Shabnams parents who were against their marriage, a bench that made up India’s Chief Justice SA Bobde and judges S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna ruled.
DIG Akhilesh Kumar did not indicate a time limit for execution at Mathura prison but said it could be Shabnam from the Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh.
The hanging in Mathura prison is for the hanging of convicted women but they were in poor condition as no woman has been hanged in free India. Thus, it was deemed appropriate for it to be renovated and maintenance work is ongoing, the officer said.
Independent India has sent more than 750 men on tripods; only 8 of them over the last two decades, according to data compiled by the research organization Project 39A of the National University of Justice, Delhi.
Archive: An investigation into the death penalty in India
Figures compiled by the group show that there were nearly 404 death row inmates by December 31, 2020. A 2016 study had shown that there were only 12 women on death row.
Preparations at Mathura Prison
Pawan Kumar, the hangman better known as Pawan Jallad, said he had visited Mathura prison about a year ago and told of the extensive repairs the tripod needed.
The wooden platform (takht) was not in proper condition. There were other shortcomings, which I told the Mathura prison authorities who have placed an order for fresh rope from Buxar prison in Bihar, he said.
People familiar with the development said two ropes, each 24 feet long, had been ordered for the loop.
Shailendra Maitrey, the senior district prison supervisor, confirmed that an order had been placed for the rope, but repeatedly referred to prison preparations as routine maintenance.
Mathura Prison has arrangements for hanging convicted women, but the site required maintenance. Thus, the required steps are being taken and the rope will be brought from Buxar prison in Bihar, Maitrey said.
Cell maintenance for convicted women addicts is a routine exercise. I have not received any communication that Shabnam or any other convicted woman will be hanged here in Mathura, he said.
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