The hangman was also kept in the dark on the identity of the death row convict till a few minutes before the execution which marked the culmination of the secret operation coded 'Operation X'.
As the 25-year-old lone Pakistani gunman in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack awaited his fate, the Maharashtra government also received several applications from persons expressing their willingness to do the job for free. "Earlier, the hangman used to get Rs 10. Now it is Rs 5,000. Although we had received several applications from persons expressing their willingness to do the job for free, the government felt it would be best if an authorised person does it," Home Minister R R Patil told reporters in Mumbai.
The entire operation was called 'Operation X', the Home Minister said, adding that the reason behind the secrecy was security concerns and for the execution to be performed without any hitch.
Among those who expressed their desire to carry out Qasab's execution was Mammu Singh, the hangman at Meerut Central Jail. But his wish remained unfulfilled since he died in May last year. Singh had said that he is eager to prepare the noose for Qasab, as he has committed a heinous crime, which needs execution of the capital punishment at the earliest. He is the son of Kallu Singh, who hung the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Police were not keen on revealing the identity about the hangman, as this was a high profile execution and also it did not want him to come into the limelight needlessly.
Even the hangman was not informed about the identity of the accused till the last minute. "We had told the hangman that he is to execute the death penalty of a terrorist. The identity was revealed to him only few minutes before the execution," a senior police official said.
Before Qasab, the last person to be executed in Maharashtra was in 1995, Patil said. After Independence, 17 convicts have been hanged to death in Maharashtra, but the last hanging was 15 years ago, on August 26, 1995, when Alibaug-based Sudhakar Joshi was sent to the gallows at Yerwada jail.