19 prisoners on death row but India’s biggest prison Tihar has no hangman | delhi news | Hindustan Times
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19 prisoners on death row but India’s biggest prison Tihar has no hangman

Over the past years, the jail has received letters from the public offering to be executioners. After the December 16 verdict by the lower court, they had received calls from the public.

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2017 00:06 IST
Prawesh Lama
Over the past years, the jail has received letters from the public offering to be executioners. After the December 16 verdict by the lower court, they had received calls from the public.
Over the past years, the jail has received letters from the public offering to be executioners. After the December 16 verdict by the lower court, they had received calls from the public.

February 9, 2013, 8 am. Convict Afzal Guru hanged inside Tihar jail. The identity of the executioner: Classified. Was a hangman brought from another state? Or was it a jail staff who tied the noose? It remains a secret because there is not a single hangman in India’s largest prison . According to available records, there was never one.

The prison in west Delhi has 19 prisoners on death row -- the highest to date. The 19 include the four convicts in the 2012 December gang rape case whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in May.

Prison officials said though there is a post of an executioner in the prison manual ever since its construction in the mid 1950s, jail records do not show any name who has worked as one.

Over the past years, the jail has received letters from the public offering to be executioners. After the December 16 verdict by the lower court, they had received calls from the public.

“We received 2-3 letters from citizens offering their services to kill convicts on the death row. They were residents of a Meerut village, the same place where a hangman employed at a UP jail lives. They were aware that Tihar does not have a hangman and were willing to do the job,” said an official.

According to jail rules, any person who is mentally sound is eligible to be an executor. “Any jail officer can be the executor. In 1989, we had used the services of a hangman from Meerut jail. It was the execution of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, killers of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. He was officially paid Rs 200,” said a jail officer.

According to rules, the allowance for one hanging is two hundred rupees. Sunil Gupta, who served as the law officer in Tihar for three decades, told HT that an executioner’s role is not a positive one.

“A prison is a place for reform. Having an executioner kind of kills the purpose. At Tihar, we believe that prisoners spend time so that they can be reformed.”

Gupta said another reason why the jail did not have a hangman was because the man would have no job. From 1989 till 2013, there was no execution. “If there were a salaried man, he would be getting paid for no work.”