news Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 05:30

The Indian state ordered Yakub Memon’s execution, but just as in Ajmal Kasab’s case, nobody knows who hanged him. On Thursday morning, fifty-three-year-old Yakub Memon became the first person to be executed for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. The prime accused, Yakub’s brother Tiger Memon still remains at large. There has been much morbid curiosity about who is executing Yakub Memon. The same questions were raised when the last execution, that of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was carried out. Kasab’s executioner’s identity has been a well-guarded secret, one that the government of Maharashtra is not willing to give away. The execution was reportedly carried out by a man who was trained in secret by a former executioner. Read: Yakub Memon's impending hanging and the moral unacceptability of death penality Every time a convict was executed by the Indian state in the last decade, the question of who the hangman would be has come up. Although over 1,300 people are on death row, there is hardly a hangman to be found country in a country of 1.2 billion people. This has left nearly all states – prisons are a state subject – scrambling to find trained executioners. There have been just four executions in the last 10 years (including Yakub's) as most states haven’t implemented the death penalities that were handed out. Between 2004 and 2013, 1,303 people were handed death sentences, but only four have been carried out. During the same period, 3,751 death sentences were commuted to life. With practically no executions being carried out, most states have no executioners on their pay rolls, and the macabre job that it is, no one wants to take it up. Read: The ultimate punishment: A beginner's guide to the death penality There is one exception to the rule: Pawan Kumar, who comes from a family of hangmen and believed the job should be his. Kumar’s father and grandfather were both hangmen at the Meerut jail in Uttar Pradesh. In September 2011, when the mercy petitions of two death row convicts Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das were rejected, Kumar had hoped that he would be taken on as a hangman. A shortage In Kerala, the last death sentence was carried out in 1991, when serial killer Ripper Chandran was executed in Kannur jail. Kerala had then brought the hangman from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu. An execution is impending. In April 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee turned down the mercy petition of Antony, who was convicted for murdering six people in 2001. The last execution in the Thiruvananthapuram Poojapura jail where Antony is lodged, was in 1979 when Azhakesan, a black magic practitioner was hanged to death. He was convicted of killing several toddlers for a magic potion. As there is no one to be found, the superintendent of the jail has offered to hang Antony. Karnataka’s last execution was carried out by unnamed jail staff. In 1983, a man named Hanumant Malla was hanged in Hindalga Central Prison in the northern district of Belgaum. He had been convicted of murdering five people. The Hindalga jail is the only one in the state which is equipped with gallows and since there is no official hangman, four of the jail staff have been trained to carry out executions. Among those to be executed are Shiv and Jadeswamy convicted for rape and murder, but it is unknown when they will be executed. In August 2013 Mukherjee had turned down the mercy pleas. Four associates of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan are also imprisoned in Hindalga jail. Clemency was denied to them too. The last person to be hanged in Tamil Nadu was was Auto Shankar. He was hanged in 1995 in Salem Central Prison. Before that, it was Chandru, who was executed in 1983. He had been convicted of murdering a child and was hanged in Vellore jail by prison officials as there was no official hangman. Prison department officials say with no execution in the near future, the question of maintaining a hangman on the rolls has not risen. According to a report by Factly, 147 people in the state are on death row in the state between 1998-2003.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.