Technology Manager, Poet, History Maniac. Also, a prolific writer on varied topics
Shiv Khera, the famous motivational speaker rightly said.
“Good parenting gives headaches, but bad parenting gives heartaches.”
And heartaches are rather putting it mildly. Bad parenting can also create gruesome kidnappers and murderers. And the story of the killer sisters Seema Gavit and Renuka Shinde is a classic example of how parenting can grossly go wrong.
And it all started with their mother, Anjana Bai, who had built a notorious career for herself in pickpocketing and snatching jewelry in crowded places. It was Anjana who inducted them into a life of crime by teaching them how to pick-pocket in crowded marketplaces and during religious festivals in small towns throughout Maharashtra, western India.
And the sisters took to the life of crime as easily as a fish takes to water. They gave a whole new definition to the word ‘heartless’, especially in a woman’s context.
Santosh was their first victim. He was just 18 months old when the sisters kidnapped him. Later after his purpose was finished, they banged his head against an electric pole and discarded his body under an auto-rickshaw just because he wouldn’t stop crying.
And after that during the next six years, they continued their horrendous career by kidnapping dozens of children and discarded them after they had fulfilled their purposes. Most of them were beaten to death, their little heads bashed in, or were thrown down a flight of stairs, or even drowned in lakes around.
As Asim Sarode, a human rights activist who was closely working on their case tells later.
“It created fear in my mind when I met them. The sisters, he says, showed no remorse or shame. Neither on their face nor in their body language, did I see any repentance for what they had done to so many children.”
The story of the sisters was immortalized in a 2019 Indian Hindi-language psychological thriller movie Posham Pa. The title refers to a popular nursery rhyme, but the film theme depicts the mass murder of children by the killer sisters.
The story of Seema Gavit and Renuka Shinde
The story of the sisters starts with their mother who became a thief after her first husband, a truck driver, deserted her after the birth of Renuka. Soon she became a hardened criminal with more than 125 cases of theft in her name across multiple states of India. She married again but her second husband, a retired soldier named Mohan Gavit, also left her citing her wayward ways.
Anjana never forgave her second husband for this ‘betrayal’ as she called it as she constantly plotted to harm Mohan who had married again to start a new life. By this time the sisters were 15 and 17 years old respectively and thoroughly trained by Anjana in robbery and pickpocketing in India’s crowded marketplaces and temples.
It was somewhere at this point that Renuka married Kiran Shinde who soon began her accomplice in crime. Once when Renuka was with her toddler son Aashish in the process of pickpocketing someone in a temple complex was when the victim caught her.
But Renuka was able to escape citing emotionally “how can a woman with a child commit a crime?”. The mob left her but that gave Anjana a horrifying plan of action to kidnap a child while committing a theft. This way, there will be no suspicions raised as people would hardly suspect a woman with a toddler.
Over the next six years, up to 40 children were kidnapped by the mother-daughter trio along with Kiran as the ‘getaway’ expert. Some infants were left, others were deliberately injured to create a distraction, or murdered when they were no longer required.
The sisters outperformed their mother in brutality by bashing the infants against electric poles, throwing them down the stairs, hanging them upside down from ceilings to even chopping their bodies once the theft was successfully orchestrated
As Asim Sarode a human rights activist recalls a particular case of brutality.
“In one of their particularly gruesome murders, they hung a two-year-old upside down, bashed his head against the wall, and chopped him to pieces. They then went for a movie at a local theatre in Kolhapur, eating bhel puri (a savory Indian snack). All the while, the bag, with the chopped remains remained under their feet,”
Horror has multiple faces and the worst of all is ‘ordinariness’. Yes, the sisters looked like any ordinary, middle-class girls going about their routine work. They can be easily lost among the crowd and that made them even more dangerous and unpredictable.
The common people would hardly expect such evil lurking so close to them waiting to kill their loved ones in cold blood.
The sisters were caught
Anjana’s revenge on her ex-husband proved to be the downfall for the trio as she ordered the sisters to kidnap her ex-husband Mohan’s infant daughter. But Mohan’s wife Pratima called the police in time and Anjana, her two daughters, and Renuka’s husband were arrested.
One police investigator remembers all three of them being ‘tough nuts’ to crack as he said.
“They would just sit there and look. Never once did they crack,”
The police breathed in relief when finally, Kiran Shinde, Renuka’s husband agreed to turn into ‘state witness’ against his wife and sister-in-law and had all charges against him dropped. The sisters were found guilty of six of the nine murders based on the evidence collected by the police at their multiple hideouts.
In December 1997, Anjana, their mother died in custody while awaiting trial. The trial began in 1998 and continued for three years where Kiran gave evidence of the torture inflicted on the children. In 2001, the Kolhapur Sessions Court in the Maharashtra state of India sentenced Seema and Renuka to death. As the Supreme Court (SC) Bench of KG Balakrishnan and GP Mathur later commented after the verdict.
“They had been a menace to society and people in these cities were completely horrified and they could not send their children even to schools. One would hardly have expected such barbarity from women.”
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 13, 2021:
Yes they were one of the worst serial killing sisters of India
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 13, 2021:
Vanita Thakkar on February 13, 2021:
This is too much for me. Such unbelievable cruelty, that too by women!!
MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 13, 2021:
Read about them when I was in India. They were sentenced to death but I think the sentence was commuted which should not have been done. Nice article.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 13, 2021:
Wow! This is a shocking story and I have not heard of them until you shared it here..