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Days before hanging, 16 December rapists have ‘lost appetite, are watching Bollywood films’

Tihar jail official says the four 16 December gang-rape convicts have made no special demands, have been meeting their families.

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New Delhi: The four 16 December gang-rape convicts have “lost their appetite” and are spending most of their time “watching Bollywood movies on TV” as their date of hanging approaches, ThePrint has learnt.

The four men — Mukesh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma — are scheduled to hang on 20 March.

“They have gone quiet and have not been eating well. All they do is watch Bollywood movies on the TV they have access to,” a Tihar jail official told ThePrint.

“They have also been monitoring the news on television to see how the courts, the outside world and their families, are reacting to the news of their hanging,” he added.

The Tihar jail official said that the four have been advised against watching the news as that could affect their health, “but they insist”. He added that their health was fine and they are being monitored by the doctors regularly.

“They have not yet made any special demands. Their families have been coming to visit. Only Akshay’s family has not come for the ‘akhri mulaqat’ (last meeting), but they are expected to come on Thursday,” he said.

Although the four convicts are to be hanged on 20 March, three of them have sought a stay on their execution.

While Pawan has filed another curative petition, claiming he was a juvenile at the time of the incident, Akshay has filed a second mercy petition with the President.

A decision in both cases is pending, but all four convicts have already exhausted all their constitutional remedies to appeal against the decision.

The plea by the convicts also cites “bad air quality” in Delhi and the coronavirus pandemic stating that the hanging to be held on 20 March is “unsustainable” and should be postponed.

A lower court is scheduled to hear the matter at noon Thursday.

The Delhi High Court Wednesday, meanwhile, reserved its order on a petition by Mukesh seeking quashing of the death penalty. Singh had moved court saying he was not in Delhi at the time of the incident.

Also read: ‘Don’t want to be rapist’s widow’: Wife of 16 December gangrape convict seeks divorce

Hanging rehearsals complete

Hangman Pawan reached Tihar jail three days ago and has been carrying out the rehearsals along with the prison staff.

According to a source in Tihar, Pawan has even “trained” a few jail officials to carry out the hanging, in case anything goes wrong at the last minute.

The source added that there will be two levers that will have to be pulled to hang the four convicts, and hangman Pawan will do that one after another at the gap of five seconds.

He will be paid Rs 20,000 for the execution, the source said.

“Pawan will hang all four convicts together. He will pull the two levers one after the other within seconds,” the source said. “He has, however, trained a few jail officials for the same, in case they are needed at the last minute.”

To accommodate four persons, Tihar authorities have got the platform renovated to make it sturdy and the well in which the bodies will fall, too, has been deepened and widened. The well is usually 15 to 20 feet deep.

The execution will take place in the phansi kotha inside jail number 3.

The phansi kotha is also the place where the bodies of Afzal Guru and Kashmir separatist leader Maqbool Bhat are buried.

The day of hanging

On the morning of the execution, the jail superintendent will first ensure that all the formalities related to the execution are completed.

The convicts, who have been kept in isolation, will then be brought out by the superintendent, the district magistrate or additional district magistrate and the medical officer.

“Their hands will be tied behind their backs and their handcuffs removed. They will then be taken to the scaffold under the charge of the deputy superintendent and guarded by the head warder and six warders,” a second Tihar jail official said.

Once the prisoners reach the scaffold, a cotton cap with a flap will be placed on their heads just before they enter the gallows-enclosures as according to the jail manual, the prisoner should not be allowed to see the gallows.

The men will then be escorted to the noose and will be placed directly under the beam to which a rope is attached. Following this, they will be handed over to the hangman, who will strap their legs tightly together and adjust the ropes tightly around their necks.

The superintendent will then check if the rope around the necks of the prisoners is adjusted properly and the knot placed in the proper position.

After a signal from the superintendent, the executioner will draw the bolt.

The jail manual says that this entire operation should be done “simultaneously and quickly as possible”.

After this, the superintendent will give the final signal to the hangman to push the lever to release the trap-door and hang the men.

According to rules, the bodies will remain suspended for half-an-hour before they are taken down or until the resident medical officer has certified that “life is extinct”.

Once the men are executed and their bodies taken out of the gallows, they will be sent for a post-mortem examination.

According to the jail manual the bodies will then be disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the religion to which the executed prisoner belonged.

Also read: HC rejects December 16 gangrape convict Mukesh’s plea of not being in Delhi at the time of crime


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