According to highly placed sources in Yerawada Central Jail, the last thing Ajmal Amir Qasab consumed was two cups of masala tea before being shifted to a special cell on the right side of Phansi yard, after which he was hanged yesterday morning.
Qasab reached the jail at 2 am on Tuesday, and all those already on the premises, including top police officials, were not allowed to leave, regardless of whether their work shift was over. Qasab was asked whether he wanted food to be bought from outside, but he insisted that he be served ‘jail khana’. He consumed four bottles of mineral water and seemed to be normal on Tuesday.
Sources said that Qasab looked frail when he was being marched to the gallows yesterday and needed to be supported by officers escorting him.
Qasab exhibited no signs of fear or remorse and consumed the food served to him in his high security Anda cell. He was even heard singing ‘Na ja mere Badshah ek vada tod ke ek vade ke liye’ from the Hindi movie Khuda Gawah.
Describing the last moments, the source said, “Qasab was taken to the special cell near Phansi yard at 4 am, where he was served masala tea. He flashed a smile and showed no remorse.” The officer claimed that Operation X involved 20 to 25 trusted employees of the jail — mostly officers of the designation of sub inspector and inspector. “The employees were chosen for the task on the basis of their service records and dedication towards the duty they were performing,” the source said.
The officer added that Qasab’s mood changed considerably as he was being taken to the Phansi yard for execution. “He seemed perfectly normal while taking the first few steps, but the two escorts had to lift him onto the scaffold,” the officer said.
Regarding Qasab’s burial, the source said that two or more trenches were dug, but the location was changed and religious procedure followed at the very last moment. The officer was unable to confirm whether a Maulvi was brought in from outside to conduct the funeral ritual.
> One-inch thick Manilla rope used for hanging made in workshop of Yerawada Jail
> Rope coated with soap and butter five days prior to execution
> Hangman’s knot taught to jail staff during induction programme
> Dummy weighing 1.5 times more than actual body weight of condemned person prepared for practise to avoid rope snapping at last moment
> Detailed execution procedure appears under section ‘Death’ of prison manual
> Death warrant is read out twice in presence of condemned person — once in special cell and once on scaffold
> Before being marched to the Phansi yard iron shackles are removed
> Condemned person left hanging for half an hour after execution
> After execution, superintendent signs and returns death warrant
Qasab’s weight at the time of his execution
The Phansi yard is situated around 130 meters inside the jail premises and is on the left side of the main gate. The special cell reserved for those awarded the death sentence is on the right of this yard. There is slight incline leading to the yard, and former officers claim that most condemned inmates have needed assistance to walk up the slope. Phansi yard was repainted and electrical work carried out on a priority basis barely eight days ago.