Woman faces execution after beheading seven 7 of own family in horrific murders

A woman being held on India’s Death Row for her part in an horrific family massacre has made a last-ditch bid for clemency hours before she is due to be hanged.

Shabnam Ali was sentenced to death after being found guilty of the murders of her mother, father, two brothers, sister-in-law, cousin and 10-month-old nephew.

They had been given milk laced with sleeping pills before having their throats cut with an axe on the night of April 14, 2008.

Shabnam and her boyfriend Salim were arrested five days later, and police said they had committed the crime because the family had opposed their relationship.

At the time of her arrest, Shabnam confessed to strangling her 10-month-old nephew Arsh after Salim to use the axe on him. In a statement she said, “The baby kept crying but Salim told me he must not be touched. But I was scared, so I throttled him myself”.

But after 11 years on Death Row, Shabnam has denied the crime. Usman Saifi, a close friend of Shabnam’s who adopted her 12-year-old son Taj Mohammad, told Arab News: “When we met Shabnam on Sunday, she told me that she is not the killer and there should be a proper investigation of the case.”

However, Shabnam’s lawyer Arshad Ansar said that it was “highly unlikely” the case would be reopened again.

“A case can be investigated before the filing of the charge sheet and during the initial stages of the trial.,” he told Arab News. “Now she is on death row it is highly unlikely that the case can be reopened.”

If the execution goes ahead as planned, Shabnam will be only the second woman to be hanged in the country in the past 74 years.

She was pregnant at the time of the killings, and her son, Taj, was born in jail in 2010.

He was allowed to remain with his mother until he reached the age of six, at which point with no other family to care for him he was taken in by Saifi and his wife, Vandana Singh.

Human rights advocate Suhas Chakma points out that if the execution goes ahead Shabnam will be only the second woman to be hanged in India’s history and that the death penalty should be repealed: “Hanging is meant to be a deterrent, but it does not work that way. Why should the state be indulging in the gruesome act of killing someone?” she asked.

Shabnam’s uncle, Sattar Ali, ives next door to the house in Bawankhedi village where the killings took place. He says he will refuse to give her any kind of funeral after she is hanged.

“I don’t want anything to do with her,” he said. “She is no one for us. We forgot her a long time ago.”

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