On Tuesday, a Delhi court said Mohammad Afzal, accused in the Parliament attack case, would be hanged to death at 6 am on October 20. Now, the hunt for the hangman has led authorities at Tihar jail to Nata Mullick, the oldest and the senior most hangman in the country.
Tihar spokesman Sunil Gupta said they were looking for hangmen from West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana. “The notices are likely to reach the state government on Friday,” he told the Hindustan Times from New Delhi.
Eighty four-year-old Mullick has put more than 25 people to death. He is proud of his lineage. His father, he says, has hanged more than 500 people, mostly revolutionaries from Bengal who died while fighting the British.
Tihar jail superintendent Ajay Bhatia told the Hindustan Times that they didn’t have too much of a choice. There are only four to five hangmen in the country. “We are keeping our options open and Mullick is one of them,” he said.
For Mullick, that means just another day at work. “If I am asked to do the job, I will do it,” he said.
Jail officials said they would try to keep two to three hangmen ready for October 20. “We are trying to keep some people on stand-by,” a senior official of the jail said. This will be Tihar’s first execution in 17 years.
The last execution in Tihar jail was in 1989 when Sarwant and Kehar Singh, convicted in the Indira Ghandhi assassination case, were hanged by Kallu and Fakira. “Both Kallu, who came from Meerut jail in Uttar Pradesh, and Fakira, who is from Faridkot jail in Punjab, are dead. So we have a problem on our hands,” Ajay Bhatia said.
At present, there are eight people who are awaiting death sentence at Tihar jail. These include high-profile convicts Sushil Sharma, convicted in the Naina Sahni “tandoor murder” case, and Devinder Singh Bhullar, the BKI commander convicted in the terrorist attack on Youth Congress leader MS Bitta. But Afzal’s case comes up first. “We are keeping everything ready,” a jail official of Tihar jail said.
Tihar officials say the prison has its gallows in perfect order even though there has been no execution in many years. “Even a layman can hang a person. It has been made so simple,” Gupta said.