Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab may have been sent to the gallows but where is the hangman?
This question popped up on Thursday after 22-year-old Kasab was ordered by a Mumbai trial court to be “hanged by the neck until death” since not a single hangman is on jail rolls.
Maharashtra, whose capital Mumbai suffered the country’s worst terror attack in 2008, does not have a hangman.
The story is the same be it in the national capital’s Tihar jail where the last hanging was carried out in 1989 or in West Bengal which executed a capital punishment in 2004 .
“We had always borrowed hangman from other prisons. Anyone who volunteers for the job can do it. Even if there is no hangman to be found, any police officer from the rank of a constable can also do it if he volunteers,” a Tihar Jail official said.
Legally, the government can appoint a hangman either for short-term or as a permanent appointee.
“If there is such a problem, it is only temporary. The government can either appoint someone on a short-term basis or permanently. Moreover, any jail official can also do the job if he wishes,” G. Venkatesh Rao, senior Supreme Court lawyer, who was also involved in the Indira Gandhi Assassination case said.
It was in 1989 that Satwant and Kehar Singh, convicted in Indira Gandhi Assassination case, were hanged to death.
The latest case of execution was of Dhananjay Chatterjee who got the death penalty for murder.
Chatterjee was kept at the Alipore Jail for 14 years before his mercy plea was rejected by former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and he was hanged to death on August 14, 2004.
He was executed by the 87-year-old hangman Nata Mullick in West Bengal. Mullick, whose father Shibal Mullick was a hangman in the British colonial days, died in December 2009.
Major jails across India face an acute shortage of trained hangmen.
Only men are employed for this job and the candidate has to be above 5 feet 4 inches tall.
Other than the morbid nature of the job, the meagre salary also acts as a deterrent. The hangman only gets a paltry Rs 150 to Rs 200 for each execution.