Senior jail superintendent becomes Qasab's hangman

On Monday night, 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Amir Qasab was ghosted away by prison authorities to Yerawada Central Jail, where he was subsequently hanged at 7.30 am yesterday.

Senior Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai oversaw the execution at the Phasi Yard in the jail — he was also the person who pulled the lever to release the trapdoor. Seventeen officials, including a government doctor, witnessed Qasab’s execution and the event was video-recorded.

Qasab’s hanging was conducted as per rules mentioned in the prison manual. He was left hanging for 30 minutes before the doctor pronounced him dead.

According to prison authorities, who wished to remain anonymous, Operation X, as it was called, was carried out with the utmost secrecy. They said great care was taken to ensure no information leaked out as they could not afford to jeopardise the operation.

“We wanted to ensure the Qasab’s security was not compromised,” a senior official said. Officials said that Qasab was buried in a pre-dug trench in a piece of open land after conducting appropriate religious rituals.

Sources said that all top officials of the state prison department were told to switch off their cell phones and warned against sharing any information with their subordinates till the end of the operation.

“It is a historical moment for Yerawada prison, as it is the first time the jail witnessed the execution of a Pakistani terrorist,” an official said. “For the past two days, we were engaged in the operation and maintained total secrecy till the end.”

The official added that Qasab was brought to Yerawada Central Jail as it was closer to Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai, than the Nagpur jail. “Only two prisons in the state — Nagpur and Pune — have the facility to carry out a death sentence,” the official said. “Yerawada is closest to Arthur Road Jail, where Qasab was in custody, hence it was strategically perfect.”

Asked whether Qasab was medically fit at the time of execution as he was reportedly suffering from dengue, the official said, “Yes, he was totally fit. According to the law, death sentence cannot be executed before confirming medical fitness.”  Speaking on the law and order situation, Commissioner of Police Pune Gulabarao Pol said the situation was normal and the police department was on the alert.  

President decided on Qasab plea in 12 days
It took barely a fortnight for President Pranab Mukherjee to decide on the mercy petition of 26/11 convict Ajmal Amir Qasab, who was hanged Wednesday morning in a Pune jail. “The president had rejected the mercy petition of Qasab on Nov 5,” said Venu Rajamony, the president’s press secretary.
Mukherjee took his decision in about 12 days, rejecting Qasab’s plea on Nov 5. There are 14 mercy petitions before the president, including parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

UP hangman couldn’t make it
Currently, the hangman’s post is vacant in Yerawada prison. In such a situation, the jail superintendent has the authority to decide who should conduct an execution. In Qasab’s case, Senior Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai decided to carry out the execution.  

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