A special inspector general of police in Maharashtra and 16 handpicked men oversaw Operation X leading to the death by hanging of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab on Wednesday.
The process was quietly initiated shortly after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected Kasab's mercy plea on November 5, official sources said.
The chosen team's mission was to hang and bury the 25-year-old Kasab in complete secrecy in Pune's Yerawada Central Jail, where he would be moved from Mumbai.
Once home minister Sushilkumar Shinde signed the file from the President's office on November 7 and sent it to the Maharashtra government the next day, the police team took charge.
Only a handful knew that Kasab would hang on November 21 morning.
These included Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, earlier the Pune police chief, and Meeran Borwankar, who heads the Yerawada jail, and those at the helm in the state intelligence department and Mumbai CID.
Yerawada is one of the two jails in Maharashtra--the other being Nagpur Central Jail--where hanging facilities are available. Pune's proximity to Mumbai played a role. An expert hangman was summoned.
On November 12, Kasab had been told of his impending hanging by a jail staff in Mumbai. According to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Kasab was quietly shifted from Mumbai to Pune on November 19.
He was taken on a special flight late at night to reach Pune early November 19 and whisked off to the Yerawada jail. He requested that his mother be informed, and indicated he had no last wish. He did not want to make a will or any final testament.
As state home minister R.R. Patil put it, after completing all legal niceties, Kasab was executed at 7.30am on Wednesday. Just 15 minutes later, the Operation X chief conveyed to the state home department that the task was "successfully completed".