She killed 7 members of her own family while pregnant. Now her son could be orphaned by execution
April 25, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 17.8%. 2 min read.
Shabnam and her lover, Saleem, were found guilty of murdering seven members of her family and sentenced to hang. If she is executed, Shabnam will be first woman given the death penalty in India since 1955. She will leave behind a son, Bittu, who is appealing to the President Ram Nath Kovind to save her life.
The case hit headlines -- not only had Shabnam murdered seven of her family members, including a 10-month old child, but she was eight weeks pregnant at the time.
Shabnam and her lover, Saleem, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to hang.
If she is executed, Shabnam -- who, like Saleem, is only referred to in court documents by one name -- will be first woman given the death penalty in India since 1955.
Shabnam and Saleem were young lovers who lived in the same village -- but their families didn't approve of their union.
"Shabnam is going in the wrong direction, she wants to marry Saleem and the atmosphere at home is very tense," Mohammad recalled Anjum as saying, according to his witness statement at Shabnam's 2008 district court trial.
But there was something Shabnam's family didn't know, the court heard.
They argued Shabnam wanted to kill her family so she would be the sole heiress of their property and could live in comfort with Saleem and their newborn.
On April 14, 2008, Shabnam laced her family's evening drinks with a sedative Saleem bought with the help of a fruit seller, the court found.
"Shabnam held up the heads of each member one by one and I slashed their throats and killed them," Saleem confessed the day after the murders to Bilal Ahmad, a tea seller with connections to the district police chief.
Instead, Ahmad reported Saleem's confession to the police and recounted in court what Saleem had told him: "I have made a mistake, I am in love with Shabnam, a girl from my village, and she loves me too.
Yet, while Shabnam and Saleem had allegedly murdered so they could be together, they turned on each other in the trial.
Saleem said Shabnam had been drinking wine and called him after she had killed her family, asking him to get rid of the evidence.
Shabnam and Saleem's son, Bittu, was born in prison in December 2008 -- eight months after the murders.
In prison, Shabnam doted on her son, said her lawyer Rastogi.
Saifi said it took time to convince Shabnam that Bittu would be safe living with him and his wife.
Shabnam and Saleem contested the death sentence, however the Supreme Court held that the punishment was proportionate, and the crime fulfilled the conditions of "rarest of rare," which is required when imposing the death penalty.
Shabnam's death sentence made headlines again in February after one of the last remaining hangmen in India visited Mathura Jail, the only one in the country with a hanging house for women.