Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hangman wanted: Indian state searches for executioner to carry out first death sentence in twenty years - 1st June 2011

The search is on in India to find the country an executioner to fulfil a death sentenced handed down to a convicted murderer.

Mahendra Nath Das was convicted of a gruesome killing in the state of Assam and the only one thing keeping him from the gallows is the lack of a hangman.

The death sentence is rare in India with only two hangings over the past 15 years and it has been more than two decades since any convict was executed in Assam.

Officials in the north-eastern state are scouring the rest of the country for a possible candidate.

Das was convicted for publicly decapitating a victim with a machete.

Brojen Das, the jailer of the prison at Jorhat, 190 miles east of Gauhati, said 'We have started the process of putting up the gallows.'

Prison authorities have written to their counterparts in the states of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal searching for a hangman, but have so far gotten no response, said S Thakuria, Assam's top prison official.

Qualified executioners, who know how to prepare the rope and tie the knot so as to cause a swift death, are scarce in India.

The last hanging took place in 2004, when a security guard was hanged in a Kolkata jail for the rape and murder of a teenage girl.

Nata Mullick, India's most famous hangman, came out of retirement at age 84 to carry out that execution, earning $435 and a job for his grandson as a maintenance worker at the jail.

A third generation hangman, Mr Mullick executed 25 of the 55 people who died on the gallows since India gained independence in 1947.

He would run repeated dry runs, using sandbags the same weight as the condemned prisoner.

He waxed the rope with soap and ripe bananas and tied it with five knots, hoping his preparations would keep the pain to a minimum and ensure the prisoner's head was not severed during the drop from the gallows.

In 2007, Mr Mullick described the job as 'an art' saying that 'skills need to be honed.'

Mr Mullick died in 2009.

Local media said there might be one or two hangmen still around nationally, including Mr Mullick's son, Mahadeb. Read More