Sisters Renuka Kiran Shinde and Seema Mohan Gavit are set to become the first women to be legally executed in India after they were convicted in 2001 of kidnapping 13 children and murdering 9 of them. According to The Times of India, President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their official petitions for leniency last month.
The case shocked the country when it was discovered that the two women, at the behest of their mother (who died during the trial), had snatched young children ranging from 1 to 5 years old from crowded public spaces. They would then force the kids to beg and pickpocket, or carry the younger ones in their arms as a decoy while they stole purses and valuables.
The murders occurred when the children became old enough to draw attention to themselves or had “stopped being productive,” and victims typically died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Shinde’s husband, who knew of and participated in the crimes, was acquitted in exchange for information.
Rejecting an initial appeal in 2006, Justices K. G. Balakrishnan and G. P. Mathur explained that the sisters’ gender should not be a deterrent to capital punishment. “Going into the details of the case, we find no mitigating circumstances against them apart from the fact they are women. Further, the nature of their crime and the systematic way in which each child was kidnapped and killed amply demonstrates the depravity of the mind,” reads the judgment. “We do not think that these appellants are likely to reform, and will remain a menace to society.”
Shinde and Gavit are currently on death row at Pune’s Yerwada Jail—a facility with its own gallows—and it’s believed they will be hanged once an execution date has been set.