What if in the middle of a still night, there’s chaos outside your house and you wake up to witness a mass murder?
The same was experienced by the people in Bawan Kheri, a small village in Uttar Pradesh.
The story takes place back in 2008. Lateef Ullah Khan was one of the first to go out to a woman’s urge for help at around 2 a.m. The villager saw Shabnam was lying unconscious near her father’s body, whose neck was hacked. Further, the case files state that the body of her two brothers, mother, sister-in-law, 14-year-old cousin, and a ten months old baby were spread all around the floor covered with blood.
For a shudder, not only she did kill all her seven family members but also was she eight-weeks-pregnant.
Shabnam and Saleem were lovers whom Shabnam’s parents didn’t allow to marry. “They used to beat her and didn’t let her marry me,” said Saleem.
In April 2008, Shabnam mixed a sedative in her family’s evening tea. Further, she called Saleem, who appeared with an axe. “Shabnam held up the heads of each member one by one and I slashed their throats and killed them,” Saleem confessed to his friend who happened to be a tea seller, with connections to the district police chief.
According to court documents, the axe was recovered from Saleem and the empty packets of the drug were recovered from Shabnam.
So was it all done for love? Was a ten months old child was killed to give birth to a pure relationship? Also if it was so as according to Shabnam and Saleem, one can clearly expect them to stand there by each other’s side. However, the story witnessed a contrast when during the trial both of them turned on each other.
Where Saleem accused that Shabnam alone was drunk, killed her family, and later called him after the murder, Shabnam accused that Saleem alone killed all her family members. This brought further confusion about the matter, where the motive was united, proofs were found from both of them but in the end, both of them turned over each other.
However, the district court found them guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging. This is for the first time since 1955 that a woman will be hanged. Further, they appealed to the high court and Supreme Court as well, nonetheless faced failure at all their trials.
This action of theirs not only did destroy seven lives but also their children. Shabnam and Saleem’s son was born in December 2008- Eight months post the massacre. Shabnam would take care of him and after a few years, she did also teach him some basics of study such as alphabets. It was seen that she felt really sad about what had occurred. Since 2015 their child is being raised and taken care of by Shabnam’s college friend and a Journalist, Mr. Usman Saifi who also wanted to write a book on them.
After the news hype regarding the execution of Shabnam this February, Shabnam’s son wrote on a blackboard that he held to the media, “President Uncle Ji please forgive my mother Shabnam.”
Has the value of seven lives increased than a feeling which later changed when both of them turned over each other as they saw the consequences of what they did? Had both of them peacefully thought about the same, their child wouldn’t be dealing with the problems he is facing now? Many such questions arise when one thinks of that twelve-year-old innocent child.
Such incidents make us think, has there left patience and peace in our society today?