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Volunteer request comes in handy

Mumbai, Nov. 21: Maharashtra’s home department was frantically searching for a hangman.

That was sometime in September, a little over a fortnight after the Supreme Court upheld Ajmal Kasab’s death sentence.

There were just two available in the country — the rest had either retired or died or disappeared.

The last time a capital sentence had been carried out in India was in 2004 in Bengal. The executioner, Nata Mullick, is no more.

Around mid-September this year, a letter landed on the desk of Maharashtra’s police chief. The letter was also marked to home minister R.R. Patil.

The letter, written in Marathi, said: “Kasab has killed over 166 people including officers such as Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar, who were role models for ordinary policemen like me… I would like to be given this opportunity to avenge their deaths by hanging Ajmal Kasab. Kindly consider my request on an urgent basis.”

The policeman, who had fought the 26/11 attackers, said: “It was awful seeing so many innocent people die. Kasab is a terrorist who did not think twice before killing them in cold blood. He does not deserve any mercy…. A terrorist does not belong to any caste or any religion…. In case I am appointed a hangman, I shall consider it my naseeb (fate), an act of Allah.”

His wish was fulfilled today when he hanged Kasab, after being trained for over a month by a hangman from Uttar Pradesh who has chosen to slip into oblivion.

A drop of 7ft or 2.2 metres was calculated to hang Kasab, who weighed 60kg. “The weight determines how a noose should be tied and the drop required to correctly hang the convict to death,” said a jail source.

The new hangman was awarded Rs 5,000 for the job. His identity, though, will be kept secret for security reasons.