A Delhi court earlier this week issued a death warrant for the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape case and this will be the first time in this century that four people will be sent to the gallows. The last time more than one person were executed together was in 1983, where the four convicts in the Joshi-Abhyankar killings in Maharashtra were hanged.
The death sentence of the four Nibhaya convicts, scheduled to be carried out on January 22 at 7 am, will be the fifth death sentence that India will execute in this century. Before this, four people — Dhananjoy Chatterjee, Ajmal Kasab, Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon have been hanged.
Dhananjoy Chatterjee: Dhananjoy Chatterjee was charged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl. On March 5, 1990, 14-year-old Hetal Parekh was found dead in her third-floor apartment in Bhowanipore in Kolkata, where Dhananjoy worked as a security guard. Dhananjoy had gone absconding after the incident and became the prime suspect, and was later finally nabbed.
In 1991, based on circumstantial evidence, the Alipore Sessions Court sentenced Dhananjoy to death. Subsequent pleas in the Calcutta High Court, as well as the Supreme Court, were turned down and his mercy petitions with the Governor of West Bengal and the President were also rejected. On August 14, 2004, he was executed at the Alipore Central Correctional Home in Kolkata.
Ajmal Kasab: The only terrorist to be caught alive after the deadly 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 that killed over 160 people and left around 300 injured, a special court in Mumbai had sentenced Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab to death on May 6, 2010. Kasab, a Pakistani terrorist and a member of the terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba, was convicted for murder, conspiracy and waging war. The Supreme Court confirmed his sentence on August 29, 2012, and the then President Pranab Mukherjee also rejected his mercy petition. On November 21, 2012, Ajmal Kasab was executed at Pune’s Yerwada Central Jail.
Afzal Guru: On February 9, 2013, Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru was hanged to death in Tihar jail. He was convicted for attacks on Parliament on December 13, 2001. He was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court on December 18, 2002. The news of his execution was released only after he had already been hanged to death.
The Parliament was attacked on December 13, 2001, and the attack was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. 14 people, including five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two personnel from the Parliament’s Security Service, and one gardener, were killed in the attack. Afzal Guru was indicted over the calls made to him by one of the attackers just minutes before the attack. Afzal Guru was hanged for waging war against the Government of India, criminal conspiracy and murder.
Yakub Memon: Yakub Memon, convicted for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, was executed by hanging at the Nagpur Central Jail at around 6:30 AM on July 30, 2015, his 53rd birthday. Memon was convicted for providing financial assistance to Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim to plan and execute the bombings.
Several pleas filed by him seeking clemency were rejected, including the post-midnight hearing by Supreme Court on the day he was hanged. The apex court had conducted an unprecedented 90-minute hearing on July 29, 2015, which had gone well past 3 AM, and rejected the appeal of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts. On March 12, 1993, the country's commercial capital witnessed an unprecedented terrorist attack when a series 12 bomb explosions took place one after another in about a span of two hours.
The last time four convicts were executed:
In 1983, four convicts in the sensational "Joshi-Abhyankar" killings in Pune were executed together at the Yerwada Central Jail here. Rajendra Jakkal, Dilip Sutar, Shantaram Kanhoji Jagtap and Munawar Harun Shah were hanged on October 25, 1983. The Joshi-Abhyankar serial killings were 10 murders committed by them between January 1976 and March 1977. The murderers were commercial art students at the Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya on Pune's Tilak Road. The gruesome killings had sent shock waves across Maharashtra.