MUMBAI: Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit, notorious as the ‘The Sinister Step Sisters’ of Maharashtra, will soon become the first women in the country to be hanged as no one has come forward to object to the execution of the duo convicted in 2006 of killing 12 children.
The Maharashtra government had set August 16 as the deadline for the sisters’ relatives to object to their hanging after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their mercy plea four months ago. The government will write to the Union Home Ministry after the deadline ends on Saturday. If the death penalty is executed, Renuka and Seema will be the first women in the country to be hanged after Nalini Sriharan’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Petty thieves Renuka and Seema, along with their mother Anjana Gavit and Renuka’s husband Kiran Shinde, kidnapped children, mostly toddlers, from Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli in their Fiat car between 1990 and 1996. When caught picking pockets, the sisters, claiming innocence, used to create a scene and throw the kidnapped child onto the floor repeatedly. They said they could not bear the stigma of being branded a thief. Since the children they abducted were very young and could not speak, bystanders never suspected anything. The severely hurt children would succumb to their injuries.
“We had information that they killed nearly 44 children but the police investigation could prove the murder of 12 of them,” Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told Express. “Our case was based on circumstantial evidence. It had shocked the conscience of the country,” he said.
Seema once dropped a seven-month-old baby just because she was crying incessantly.
In another instance, the sisters hung a two-year-old boy upside down and slammed his head against a wall. Their mother Anjana was an equal partner in the crime. She died in Pune’s Yerwada jail during trial while Kiran Shinde turned approver and was acquitted by the court. “He did not have any role in killing the children. His only fault was he used to drive them in his car ,” Nikam said.
The barbaric idea of using children for their nefarious activities came to the sisters at Pune’s famous Chatushrungi temple. While caught pick pocketing, Renuka used her son Ashish as a defence and convinced the crowd that a woman with a child could not be a thief. “Their crime was heinous because Renuka forgot that she also was a mother of a boy. Their act was crueler than Putana (mythical character sent to kill Lord Krishna). When the Kolhapur court awarded them death sentence almost 1,000 children were waiting outside the courtroom. They distributed sweets to celebrate the verdict,” Nikam said. Seema was Anjana’s daughter from her second marriage to retired soldier Mohan Gavit, who, tired of Anjana’s thieving habits, left them and remarried to another person. Seeking revenge, the trio abducted and killed Gavit’s daughter from his second marriage.
They were finally caught when they tried to abduct his second daughter.