Shabnam' and Salim's review petition was rejected by the Supreme Court in January 2020, which held that their good conduct in prison could not be a reason for revisiting the death sentence. (Courtesy: livehindustan.com )
Shabnam' and Salim's review petition was rejected by the Supreme Court in January 2020, which held that their good conduct in prison could not be a reason for revisiting the death sentence. (Courtesy: livehindustan.com )

UP teacher who killed her family may be India's 1st woman to be hanged in 70 yrs

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that the Shabnam and Salim wanted to grab the property of Shabnam’s parents who were against their marriage.
By Hemendra Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, Agra
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 10:05 PM IST

The Mathura district jail in western Uttar Pradesh is preparing for the possibility that Shabnam, a woman convicted of murdering her family in 2008, maybe ordered to be hanged soon, a senior jail official Akhilesh Kumar said. If the death sentence is carried out as expected by jail officials, Shabnam could be the first woman convict to be hanged after Independence.

Preparations are on at the district jail in Mathura for the probable hanging of Shabnam, said Akhilesh Kumar, Agra’s deputy inspector general (Jail).

Shabnam and her lover Salim were sentenced to death for sedating seven members of her family and slitting their throat on the night of 14 April 2008. Among the dead was a 10-month-old child. He was strangled.

The case

Shabnam’s family were against her relationship with Salim due to the difference in their social and economic status. Shabnam was a school teacher, Salim a class 6 dropout.

Shabnam, then 24, and Salim were arrested within days of the murders. The couple was sentenced to death by the trial court in 2010; the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015. Their mercy plea was also rejected by Rashtrapati Bhavan. In January 2020, the Supreme Court also turned down their review petitions, underscoring that Saleem had “meticulously executed the killing after Shabnam administered sleeping pills in tea”.

“The devilry was with the desire to see that no legal heir except Shabnam remains alive. They wanted to grab the property of Shabnam’s parents who were against their marriage,” a bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna ruled.

DIG Akhilesh Kumar did not indicate a timeline for execution at Mathura jail but said it could be Shabnam from Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh.

“The gallows in Mathura jail is for hanging women convicts but they were in a poor condition as no woman has been hanged in free India. Thus, it was thought proper to get it renovated and the maintenance work is on,” said the officer.

Death Penalty

Independent India has sent more than 750 men to the gallows; only 8 of them during the last two decades, according to data compiled by the research organisation Project 39A of National Law University, Delhi.

Archives: An investigation into capital punishment in India

Figures compiled by the group indicate there were nearly 404 death row convicts as of 31 December 2020. A 2016 survey had indicated there were only 12 women on the death row.

Preparations at Mathura jail

Pawan Kumar, the executioner more commonly known as Pawan Jallad, said he had visited Mathura jail about a year ago and had pointed out the extensive repairs that the gallows needed.

Mathura district jail authorities are carrying out repairs at the portion of the jail that was built for executing convicts(Sourced)
Mathura district jail authorities are carrying out repairs at the portion of the jail that was built for executing convicts(Sourced)


“The wooden platform (takht) was not in proper condition. There were other shortcomings, which I pointed out to the jail authorities in Mathura who have placed an order for fresh rope from Buxar jail in Bihar,” he said.

People familiar with the development said two ropes, each 24 feet long, had been ordered for the noose.

Shailendra Maitrey, senior superintendent of the district jail, confirmed that an order was placed for the rope but repeatedly called the preparations at the jail as “routine maintenance”.

“Mathura jail has arrangements for hanging women convicts, but the place required maintenance. Thus, the required steps are being taken and the rope is to be brought from Buxar jail in Bihar,” said Maitrey.

“The maintenance of the cell for hanging women convicts is a routine exercise. I have received no communication that Shabnam or any other woman convict is to be hanged here in Mathura,” he said.

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