As the old proverb goes, “the hangman’s rope supports the hanged”, the executioner knows no matter how well he ties the noose, he’s no friend to the convict. It is one of the strangest, the most emotionally taxing jobs in the world.
How’s life being an Indian hangman? What do they tell their wives when they ask “Honey, how was your day?”, Do they reply, “I hanged a sex offender to death today – put a cloth over his head, pulled the lever, and watched him come to rest like a lifeless pendulum!”?
Let’s find out more about them.
1. Waiting for the first execution
Nobody teaches you to be a hangman – you must learn the trade of hanging convicts on your own. Take, Pawan Kumar for instance. One of the few officially registered hangmen in the country, the 52 year old is yet to get his hands dirty. However, Kumar knows his phone might ring anytime and he’d have to be ready to send the convict down the abyss. So, he keeps practicing with a bag of sand that weighs as much as a human.
He has been called to play Jallad on several occasions but every time, the execution was cancelled or postponed. This part-time clothes hawker from Meerut, as he says, has been waiting all his life for the moment of hanging his convict. He had mentioned the above mentioned facts about his life on an interview to The Guardian in 2014.
2. The pride and honor of hanging Ajmal Kasab
According to a report by Telegraph, there had been a rise in applications for the post of the official hangman because of the honor and status that’d come with hanging Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist who was caught alive on 26/11. A 38 year old property dealer, Rajiv Thandon nominated himself by appealing for the post directly to the President.
However, the most credible choice and an eager applicant was Mammu Singh, a veteran executioner who believes has learnt the art of smoothing the rope by applying soap and oil to it so that hanging is smooth and swift. However, it wasn’t Singh who eventually managed to bag the job because the 66 year old succumbed to his illness on May 19,2011.
3. The man who finally hanged Kasab
The contenders were many for being the one to hang Kasab but the one who was chosen goes by the name, Babu Jallad, a police constable. However, it was only recently that the world came to know about him as he arrived in Nagpur for the execution of another terrorism convict, Yakub Memon in July, 2015. Now, Babu Jallad is just a nickname given to a veteran executioner who had hanged many men, including Ajmal Kasab.
Not much is known about this Babu Jallad apart from the fact that he was plaid Rs. 5000 for the execution of Kasab in 2012. The execution had taken place in complete secrecy and Babu Jallad’s identity is was never really revealed.
4. Kasab’s hangman didn’t know who he was about to hang
Not only was the identity of Kasab’s executioner kept under wraps, apparently, the hangman, himself was kept in dark about the identity of the convict. As he waited at the Yerwada Jail, all he was told that a very high profile convict was being brought in.
Kasab was taken to an isolated cell guarded by the ITBP personnel. It was only some minutes before the execution that the hangman came to know about the real identity of the convict brought in to be sent to the gallows by him.
5. The one who hanged a hundred men
Nata Mallick, the official hangman of Alipur Central Jail, Calcutta, had sent over a hundred men to the gallows in his lifetime. However, the most important assignment of his life was the execution of Dhananjay Chatterjee. He was guilty of raping and murdering Hetal Parekh, a girl merely in her teens. However, his conviction was based on circumstantial evidences which led him to spend 14 years behind bars while the trial continued – he never confessed his crime, either.
After serving 14 years already, the verdict was made in favor of his execution, sending a roar of debate over the nation and even Mallick, the executioner had expressed his dilemma at that time in a documentary filmed Josy Joseph. The film was withdrawn from the theater within three days on behest of the Bengal government. Mallick died at the ripe age of 89.
6. The hangman who keeps his profession a secret
In the Muslim quarters of Lucknow, lives the white bearded Ahmadulla, who had always lived the life of an executioner since the baton was passed from his father to him in 1965. However, the man prefers to keep his professional identity a secret among his neighbors for he fears that he would not remain a respectable member of the society if people came to know about his means of earning a living.
Proud of his skills to put a man to sleep as painlessly as possible, Ahmadulla favors death penalty for terrorists and unpardonable, uncorrectable criminals. However, he had accounted of hanging a man who, until his last anguished breath, had kept on denying the charges brought against him. Ahmadulla doesn’t see much in the profession and he’s resolute that he’d be the last hangman in his family.
7. The retired executioner who lived through life-threats
Apparently, Arjun Bhika Jadhav, was quite reluctant to carry out his job as an executioner. He was very remorseful of his deeds and he finally retired in 1995. In a matter of time, nobody had any idea where Jadhav was because he has been running from one village to another every month for years. He had no option but to move around with his family as he faced constant life threats.
However, 14 years after his retirement, he came back to express his desire to be allowed to execute Kasab. Although, he was facing financial difficulties as well as health issues, he offered to do the job free of cost.
It’s just a job for them – get in, get out – nothing personal, generally.