This refers to George Orwell's essay, “A Hanging” (Aug.31). It should serve as an eye-opener to our parliamentarians who should debate on the abolition of capital punishment. Irrespective of the gravity of the offence, legal termination of a life is unacceptable. The dishonour and disrepute that the accused has caused to his family is a greater punishment than death.

In Orwell's essay, the warders are their usual self without any sign of emotion. I remember reading about the Holocaust, where German officers were assigned the task of executing Jews either by hanging or shooting or gassing them. Even after this, a routine thing, the Germans led a normal life.

T. Anand Raj,


Hanging a convict is definitely inhuman, barbaric and a cruel form of punishment. The essay rightly says it is “cutting a life short when it is in full tide.” In the Rajiv Gandhi assassination or Parliament attack case or in Mumbai, the acts were not only an offence of murder but against the state as well. This has to be considered.

Rajakrishnan K.,


Inherent in his poignantly gripping portrayal of the countdown to the hanging of “a puny wisp of a man” is the profound sense of revulsion against the cruellest form of punishment — death by hanging. Capital punishment is an incongruity in a civilised country. If homicide is an intolerable and unmitigated horror, no less so is the hangman's noose. Capital punishment, though sanctioned by the law of the land, is retributive and not reformative. Therefore, life term, in the place of capital punishment, should be the most condign punishment to the perpetrators of murder, as they deserve a life-time chance to realise the monstrosity of their crimes and atone for them in the quietude of solitary confinement.

S. Balu,


A very touching article, which will definitely have an impact on the minds of readers who are in favour of capital punishment. I personally am against it, but the question is what does one do with people like Ajmal Kasab.

Harish Sharma,


The essay makes sensible reading, where the prelude by the Editor-in-Chief provides a wonderful insight. It must be read along with the editorial (Aug.27). The law may provide for the death penalty, but it is within the ambit of the judiciary to reach that conclusion or consider it otherwise. The history of mankind has shown us that social ills cannot be remedied by capital punishment. Deterrence must come as a change from within. The essay brings to mind a story I read very long ago. It was about a magistrate who permits the execution of a prisoner two minutes before the scheduled time. When he returns home, the magistrate confronts the dead man on his doorstep, begging him for his two minutes.



Chilling in its narration and an essay that made me quite uneasy and nauseous. I feel that by recounting this story, which is only from the perspective of the convict, we are doing injustice to the victim. Perhaps if the victim's story was recounted in gory detail, then one would have the nauseating side of the victim's story. Victims of terror have stories to tell which we may never hear.

Ravi Shankar,


The two simple lines, “the barbarity and unspeakable wrongness” and “cutting a life short when it is in full tide,” are enough for us to think along the lines that it is high time capital punishment was done away with. Even the dog knew that it was cruel.

T.S. Sanath Kumar,



A HangingAugust 31, 2011

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