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Convict files mercy plea

- Dewan on death row for murdering four

Jorhat, Feb. 19: Mon Bahadur Dewan alias Tote Dewan, the only death row convict in Central Jail, Jorhat, has moved President Pranab Mukherjee for commuting his sentence to life imprisonment.

The move follows the recent rejection of his mercy plea by Assam governor J.B. Patnaik.

Sources said Dewan, 65, sent his mercy petition through jail authorities on February 10. The petition has been sent by a special messenger to the office of the inspector-general of prisons in Guwahati to be forwarded to the state home department for dispatching to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Dewan, who hails from Seshapukhuri Nepali Basti under Morhanhat police station in Sivasagar district, had hacked to death his wife Gouri, 35, two sons Rajib, 10, and eight-month-old Kajib, and neighbour Budhimaya Dewan, 60, on September 30, 2002.

He reportedly had a quarrel with his wife the night before and after waking up early next morning, he picked up a dao (machete) and hacked Gouri and their two sons to death.

He then knocked on the door of his neighbour Budhimaya and when she opened it, killed her.

He has been lodged in Central Jail along with several other inmates since he was shifted from Sivasagar District Jail on April 12, 2004.

The governor rejected Dewan’s mercy petition on December 23 last year.

It was sent to Patnaik through jail authorities on September 2, 2005, after his pleas for commuting the death sentence, awarded to him by the Sivasagar district and sessions court on December 26, 2003, were rejected by Gauhati High Court on April 28, 2005, and the Supreme Court on August 8, 2005.

The governor’s rejection letter, however, reached the prison at the end of January after which Dewan requested jail officials to assist him in filing the mercy petition to the President, as he has no family and no one has come to the jail to meet him till date, the sources said.

Rejecting the mercy plea, the governor said: “It appears from the case record that the offence has been committed in a pre-planned manner by Dewan. Considering the nature of offence and circumstances in which it was committed, it is not possible to predict the petitioner would not be a threat to society. The offence is heinous and serious and thus there are no good grounds for the exercise of power under Section 161 of the Constitution.”

Jorhat Central Jail jailor Sanjib Kumar Chetia told The Telegraph that Dewan keeps to himself and stays busy with gardening in the prison compound. He did not react much after he was told his plea to the governor for commuting the death sentence was rejected, he added.

“The man whose conduct is not of one facing death, asked me if there was any option to file another mercy plea. When told about the option of petitioning the President, he requested that jail officials prepare the plea as he was illiterate and had no relatives,” Chetia said.

In his plea to the President, Dewan has said he committed the murders because of an “unsound state of mind” and later surrendered himself to police.

“I had no motive to commit such a crime but owing to my mental insanity I could not control my rage. Sir, I have already spent 11 years in jail and I repent my act and assure you I shall never indulge in any kind of confrontation or squabble in jail. Therefore, I pray for your mercy,” Dewan said in his petition.