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Petition between hangman’s rope and hope

Calcutta, Aug. 7: The countdown to the hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who killed and raped teenager Hetal Parekh, began today with executioner Nata Mullick visiting Alipore Central Jail, where the death row convict has been lodged since 1991.

After a brief meeting with inspector-general of prisons Joydeb Chakraborty and deputy inspector-general Ramapada Bhattacharya, Mullick inspected the gallows. He also placed his demand for a permanent job for his grandson in the jails department.

“Though the date is yet to be finalised, we are making all arrangements for Dhananjoy’s execution after getting a go-ahead from the home department,” said a senior jail official.

He added that the government would look into Mullick’s demand of a job for his grandson. “We have already appointed his grandson as a sweeper-cum-hangman on a three-year contract,” the official said.

Dhananjoy’s brother Bikash, who is planning to move the Supreme Court on Monday, also visited the jail. He spoke to Dhananjoy, lodged in condemned cell No. 3, and officials.

The petition to be moved in the apex court would be based on three points:

n Asking for an inquiry to find out whether all relevant documents related to the case were actually sent by the state government to the President and the governor when they examined Dhananjoy’s mercy petitions

n Enquiring if the President has made any comment on the delay in vacating the stay order on the execution. (It took 10 years for the government to do so and that, too, at the prodding of the Supreme Court.)

n Asking for an expert team of medical practitioners to examine Dhananjoy. (Bikash contends that after staying in a condemned cell for 10 years, it is not possible for Dhananjoy to remain mentally fit.)

Backing Dhananjoy’s brother are Colin Gonzalves, a Mumbai-based lawyer, Jaymalya Bagchi, a criminal lawyer at Calcutta High Court, and Sujato Bhadro, convener of the Association for Protection of Democratic Right. Some international human rights organisations, whose names are not being revealed, have reportedly appointed Gonzalves.

The Mumbai-based lawyer is learnt to have asked for a copy of the President’s order rejecting the mercy plea from the state government.

The state has refused, saying that it has only received a communication from the Union home ministry about the President’s order. A copy of the actual order from A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s office has not come to Writers’ Buildings yet.

Bhadro said Dhananjoy’s relatives have repeatedly been denied permission to meet him. “It is possible that because of his unstable mental condition Dhananjoy is not being allowed to meet his family.”

The government is keeping an eye on the developments in the Supreme Court, apprehending more petitions on behalf of Dhananjoy.

The state judicial department has already sent a vakalatnama to Delhi for D.C. Sharma, the advocate-on-record in the apex court who fights criminal cases for the Bengal government.

The vakalatnama would formally empower Sharma to oppose any petition on Dhananjoy’s behalf.

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