Sisters who murdered 13 children to be hanged in India
Two sisters who kidnapped 13 young children and forced them to work as pickpockets before murdering them are to become the first women to be executed in India.
Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit became India's most notorious serial killers when they were convicted of a series of child murders in 2001 and sentenced to death. They were charged with 13 kidnappings and 10 murders and were found guilty of five killings.
Now, 13 years after their convictions, they are to be hanged at Maharashtra's Yerwada jail after India's president rejected their final appeal for mercy.
Their imminent executions have revived painful memories in India of some of the most brutal crimes in its recent history. One of the victims was an infant under two years old who died after his head was smashed against an electricity pole.
The sisters themselves were barely adults when they began their killing spree - Seema Gavit was just 15 when she killed her first victim and her older sister was 17. They had been inducted into a life of crime by their mother, Anjana, who taught them how to pick pockets in crowded market places and during religious festivals in small towns throughout Maharashtra. They moved between Nashik, Kolhapur, and Pune, kidnapping children they found in the street and using them as decoys to distract their marks while they picked their pockets, or to elicit sympathy if they were caught. Sometimes they would beat the child to cause a commotion that would allow them to escape. The sisters' last victim, it emerged in court, was killed as an act of revenge plotted by their mother against her estranged husband, Seema's father, who had abandoned her, remarried and had children with his new wife. The sisters helped kidnap his nine-year-old daughter Kranti, who was then killed by their mother and dumped in a field. They were arrested when Kranti's mother voiced her suspicions about her husband's ex-wife to the police.
Judges said the murders had been carried out casually and unnecessarily. "They very cleverly executed their plans of kidnapping the children and the moment they were no longer useful, they killed him."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)