Sacks of sand test noose as Tihar prepares to hang December 16 convicts
The phansi kotha (hanging courtyard) inside Delhi’s Tihar jail, which had a provision to hang only two persons at a time, has now been redone to accommodate four hangings simultaneously, a prison officer privy to the development, who did not wish to be named, said.
Prison officers made the changes a few days ago as part of the preparations for the hanging of the four convicts of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape and murder case, who are set to be executed on January 22 following a city court’s order.
This will be the first time in the jail’s history when four death row convicts will be hanged at the same time. On Sunday, officials also held mock hanging sessions using sandbags with new ropes that they had bought last month. Before this, the prison administration noted the weights of the four convicts and prepared the sandbags based on their weight. The ropes were prepared by prisoners of Buxar jail in Bihar.
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A city court had issued a death warrant for the execution of the four convicts – Mukesh Singh, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma – to be held on January 22. The execution will take place inside jail number 3, where the prison’s hanging courtyard is located. The four men lodged in two different jails inside Tihar are likely to be shifted to jail number 3 where they will be hanged on January 22, senior prison officers said.
The four convicts are currently lodged in jail numbers 2 and 4. “Depending on the verdict of the Supreme Court on January 14, which will hear a curative petition by the two men, they will be shifted together to jail number 3,” the prison officer quoted above said.The prison officer added that after the Supreme Court verdict, the convicts will be allowed to meet their families one last time, before they are sent to the gallows.
As of now, the four men are lodged alone but separately in high-risk cells. Each of them is virtually monitored by two CCTV cameras. In addition two to three jail guards watch over them round-the-clock. A second prison officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “We explained the process to them and told them the prison administration will help them prepare their will or meet their families. As of now, they get to meet their families twice a week like other prisoners but once the Supreme Court takes a decision, this will change; they will be allowed to meet their families only one last time,” the second officer said.
The officer quoted above said that the four are behaving normally and have not done anything that may seem unusual. “Maybe it is yet to sink in or maybe they still believe their hanging will be stalled,” the second officer said.
A third officer, also requesting anonymity, said that the Uttar Pradesh prisons’ department has confirmed that they can send the Meerut hangman, Pawan Kumar, for the execution. A few days before the hanging, Kumar will visit Tihar jail and inspect the preparations. “We have requested them to send two hangmen so that we are better prepared but we were told that the other hangman will not make it. For now, it is the Meerut hangman who will hang them,” the third officer said.