Delhi, Dec 12, 2019: The Tihar prison administration has received at least 15 letters from citizens who have volunteered to hang the four convicts of the December 16 Delhi gang rape case.
Over the last week, in the run-up to December 16 the seventh anniversary of the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi — the prison officers have received 15 such letters, including two from outside India, as to Hindustan Times.
A mid-level prison officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have received letters from Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are two letters from London (United Kingdom) and the US too. There is an elderly citizen, an advocate and a Chartered Accountant, who have volunteered to do the job (of haging the convicts). We won’t need their service though. If a need arises, a jail officer can do the job, like it was done in Afzal Guru’s case.”
During the weekend, one of the convicts, Pawan Gupta, was also shifted to Tihar from Mandoli jail.
TIhar jail, which has 12 prisoners on death row at the moment, does not have an official hangman. In the past, the jail has used the services of a hangman from a Meerut jail.
PLACE OF HANGING
A small courtyard in jail number 3 inside Tihar, guarded round-the-clock, will be the place where the four convicts of the Delhi gang rape case — Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh — will be hanged. Many jail officers, who did not wish to be identified, said that the ‘phansi-kotha’ is also the place where the bodies of two former prisoners — Kashmir separatist leader Maqbool Bhat and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru — are buried.
“No one is allowed inside the ‘phansi-kotha’. It is a separate section inside a high security ward, which has a few high security prisoners. The ward is guarded round the clock by personnel of Tamil Nadu State police (TSP). Except the TSP guards, warders — who hand food to the prisoners — and the prisoners themselves, nobody enters this ward. The ‘phansi-kotha’ is an extremely restricted area,” said a prison officer.
The ‘phansi –kotha’ is only opened a few times a year, when the jail officers clean the place.
The activities of the four men are currently monitored round-the-clock by jail warders and other inmates. Jail officers said the four men appear to be behaving normally and have not shown any abnormal signs yet. “We are not keeping them in isolation. Their activities are being monitored round-the-clock. Their health is also fine so far. On the day of the hanging, their health will be monitored by a doctor,” another officer said. One of the accused persons, Ram Singh, was found hanging in prison in March, 2013. Singh died in prison before the court had announced its verdict in the case.
According to the jail manual, the prison department has to inform the convicts after their mercy petition is rejected by the President. One of the convicts, Akshay Thakur, has reportedly filed a mercy petition. The others are yet to file any mercy pleas. On October 27, the prison department had written to the four convicts reminding them that they had exhausted all their legal options and that they could still write to President Ram Nath Kovind, failing which, the jail would start the process for their execution.