13:42 GMT28 February 2021
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    The 155-year-old jail in India's Mathura city is the only one in the country to hang female convicts. It is preparing to hang the first woman convict who has been sentenced to death since India became independent in 1947.

    A woman convict, Shabnam Ali, who has been sentenced to death for killing seven members of her family while they were asleep in 2008, has sought mercy from the Governor of India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

    She made a fresh appeal to the Governor on Thursday, 18 February.

    Shabnam’s victims included her parents and 10-month-old nephew. She had laced their food with sedatives and slit their throats as they slept.

    She and her lover Salim had plotted to kill her family for being against their marriage, as the man was from a different caste. She was two months pregnant at that time and gave birth to a boy in jail.

    Her lover Salim has also been sentenced to death. Both have admitted their guilt.

    In December 2008, she gave birth to a child in jail. The boy, named Mohammed Taj, was adopted by Shabnam's friend when he turned six years old.

    Taj, who is now 12, has appealed to the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind for clemency for his mother, Indian News Agency, ANI reported.

    Though no date has been set for the hanging, the Mathura city jail has begun preparations for the execution by inspecting its hanging facility designed for women.

    Built in 1866 by the British, this jail is the only one in India to have a facility for hanging women. But it has not been used by the authorities since India gained independence from the British in 1947.

    Shabnam is set to be the first woman in the country to be executed after being sentenced to death by the district court in 2010.

    She appealed against the death sentence, but it was upheld by Allahabad High Court and subsequently by the Supreme Court of India in 2015 with her crime categorised as being the “rarest of the rare”.

    She also appealed to the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind seeking mercy. But her request was turned down in January, last year, paving the way for her execution.

    Now, another appeal for Shabnam, whose death warrant is to be signed soon, has attracted severe criticism from a section of netizens.

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