'Black warrant' spelt doom for Ajmal Qasab
Senior jail officials who were privy to the execution of Ajmal Qasab have revealed that Qasab had been informed about his impending execution almost a week ago, in accordance with prison norms.
As per the procedure, Arthur Road jail officials received the ‘black warrant’ from the Supreme Court after Qasab’s mercy petition was rejected by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee. The officials relayed the information to Qasab.
Soon after the execution, the jail administration returned the death warrant to the Supreme Court, where it will be recorded and filed. The Pakistan High Commission in Delhi was informed about the execution.
According to prison officials, this is the first case of a terrorist of foreign origin being hanged in India. The last man to be hanged at Yerawada jail was Sudhakar Joshi, who was executed in 1995 for double murder and robbery.
The Supreme Court’s order was executed not by a hangman, but the jail superintendent at Yerawada prison.
Prior to his execution, Qasab had been asked to write out his will, so that any assets owned by him could be handed over as per his wishes. However, Qasab declined the offer. He had little to part with – for one, he was not entitled to daily wages earned by other convicts in exchange for work. He was never made to work inside the high security special barrack at Arthur road jail where he was confined.
According to jail officials at Arthur Road, the state government spent Rs 6 crore in order to construct the fire-proof and bullet-proof special cell for Qasab’s stay, and another Rs 27 crore was spent on the deployment of Indo-Tibetan Border Security Force, who have been guarding Qasab for the past four years.
The officer even explained that no sunlight entered the egg-shaped cell, and so an air-conditioner was installed in it to maintain the temperature. Every afternoon, he would be brought out of the cell and taken to a point inside the barrack, where he could enjoy sunlight for a few minutes.
A special police cook would prepare bland food for him every day, at the recommendation of doctors who were treating him for ulcers and hernia.
Jailors had to maintain minute-by-minute records of what Qasab did inside his cell – including his trips to the lavatory and the time he went to sleep, and his appointments with doctors and police officers.
On an average, 10 pages of a dairy would be used to jot down sundry details of his incarceration every day. In the last four years, over 500 such journals have been filled with the records, which will be preserved for a few years.
Asked about the fate of the egg-shaped cell prepared specially for him, the officer revealed, “We will keep the high security cell as it is, there is no point in keeping it unused. Other terrorists like Abu Jundal would be kept there.”