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Two dozen death row convicts still languish in Yerawada jail

The Yerawada Central Jail, where Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Qasab, convicted for 26/11 Mumbai attacks, was hanged last week, has over two dozen death row convicts awaiting execution, an official yesterday — the fourth anniversary of the carnage.


The end: Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Qasab (inset) was hanged in Yerawada Jail five days before the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attack that claimed 166 lives. File pic

“Their execution papers are still in process,” the jail official, who declined to be identified, said, adding that the Mumbai terror attack anniversary passed off peacefully at the high security prison here. According to official records, Maharashtra has 38 prisons, of which eight are central prisons, 25 district prisons (Class 1, 2 and 3), three open prisons, and one open prison colony and a Borstal School for juveniles.

However, of the eight central prisons, only two prisons — Yerawada Central Jail and Nagpur Central Jail — currently have execution facilities. Breaking a popular myth about shortage of hangmen for execution of death row prisoners, an official from Yerawada jail told said that a hangman was not a specially appointed functionary for any Maharashtra prison.

“According to the prison rules of Maharashtra, a prison constable is entitled to be a part of the execution process. If willing, he is the one who readies the noose, ties the convict’s hands and covers his head with the black cloth,” he said. The official said, on paper, it was the duty of the jail superintendent to pull the handle that finally hangs the prisoner.

Explaining the difference between earlier executioners and the modern-day hangmen, the official said, “What we used to actually call a ‘jallad’ — an executioner who beheaded criminals — are certainly extinct due to the heinous profile of the job. However, the modern-day hangmen are the constables employed with the prison, who are willing to do the job.”

Even as Qasab was hanged here five days ago, there was hardly anybody, barring a handful of top officials, who were aware of the execution, which was carried out amidst tight secrecy and security in the morning. Qasab was hanged five days before the fourth anniversary of the terror attack that claimed 166 lives. Nine other Pakistani terrorists, who were his associates and slain during the 26/11 attacks, were secretly buried in Mumbai in January 2010.

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