9:47 am - Saturday November 21, 2015

Two sisters from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur may become the first women to be hanged in India

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renuka-shinde

Two Kolhapur women, who were sentenced to death in 2001 for kidnapping 13 children and killing nine of them, may become the first women ever to be hanged in India.

President Pranab Mukherjee late last month rejected Renuka Kiran Shinde and her sister Seema Mohan Gavit’s mercy petitions. The buffer period before their hanging – time taken by the state home department to inform all concerned after receiving the note from Rashtrapati Bhavan – ends on Saturday.

The number of people executed in India since Independence is a matter of dispute. Government statistics claim that only 52 people have been executed since independence. However, research by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties indicates that the actual number of executions is in fact much higher, as they have located records of 1,422 executions in the decade from 1953 to 1963 alone. However, there is no record of any woman’s execution.

Renuka and Seema, who partnered their mother Anjanabai Gavit to kidnap the kids and push them into begging and killed some of them after they stopped being productive, are currently lodged at the Yerwada jail in Pune. Anjanabai passed away during the trial, and the sisters’ father Kiran Shinde turned approver and was acquitted.

The President has also rejected the mercy petition of Rajendra Wasnik, who was sentenced to death for raping and killing a three-year-old in Amravati in March 2007. Wasnik had lured the girl with the promise of buying her biscuits before sexually assaulting and eventually killing her.

The note from Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wasnik arrived at the state home department on Tuesday and the process of informing the convict, his relatives, and the Nagpur jail where he is lodged has been initiated.

Desk officer Deepak Jadiye of the home department said no objections have been received yet on the Kolapur sisters’ hanging. “We have informed the two convicts, their relatives, the legal remedial cells of the Supreme Court and also the district court about the rejection (of their mercy plea),” he said.

While awarding the death sentence to the sisters in 2001, Judge G L Yedke in Kolhapur had described the nine kids’ murders as ‘the most heinous’, and observed that the two sisters seemed to have enjoyed killing the children.

There are currently 24 convicts on death row in Maharashtra, including the three Shakti Mills rapists. All convicts facing death sentences in Maharashtra are moved to Yerwada in Pune or the Nagpur jail as these are the only two prisons in the state that have gallows.

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