Day after: Some detail, much debate


The apparatus for hanging Ajmal Kasab was put together by five persons, three of them Maharashtra jail department officials, and three reportedly without a clue about who was going to be executed. Also, sources said, not all five were present when a senior jail official finally pulled the lever to complete the execution.

Kasab was executed at 7.30 am on Wednesday and buried on the premises of Yerawada Jail.

"After the orders were received by the jail superintendent, the preparations started three days before the designated date. At this stage, too, secrecy had to be maintained to prevent the possibility of the news spreading within the jail and then outside," a senior officer with the state jail department told The Indian Express on Thursday.

"One of the important precautions we need to take while setting up the assembly is to ensure that the knot does not cause any external injury but just blocks the airway by pressing a bone in the neck, the seventh vertebra," the officer said.

The execution scaffold is set up over a well-like structure. When the lever is pulled, the wooden plates on which the person is standing open downwards, the person dropping into the open space. The apparatus is first tested with a dummy that weighs the same as the convict, the aim being to ensure that it drops to a specified depth. Yerawada jail has three such gallows.

" If there is no hangman, the jail superintendent or the jailer pulls the lever," said an officer retired from the jail department, and who had been posted at all central jails in the state. "Pulling the lever or the bolt is just the last part; the crucial job is the assembly. And there are very set, longstanding procedures for that."

The rope, for instance, has to be soaked in fat for some time. The rope used is believed to have come from Bihar, though there has been no official confirmation yet. Bihar police sources said it is possible the hangman's rope had been made in Buxar jail, which specialises in this craft. Buxar jail authorities said they had, in fact, supplied a rope in anticipation of the hanging of Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack convict on death row, but were not sure if this was the rope eventually used in Yerawada.

... contd.

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