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After Ahmad, hangman crunch

Guwahati, June 21: The hangman crunch in the country can only get worse once Babu Ahmad, whose services have been requisitioned for the execution of Mahendra Nath Das, calls it a day, for he has not allowed his two sons to follow in his footsteps.

He is more than convinced, however, that the death penalty must continue, no matter what. “Kanoon ka khauf hona chahiye (there should be fear for the law),” Ahmad told The Telegraph from Lucknow.

He also confirmed that he had been sounded out to hang Das, who is in the death row at Central Jail Jorhat, convicted of murder.

Gauhati High Court, however, has stayed the execution till July 21 to give the Centre time to file an affidavit on the delay in the President’s rejection of Das’s mercy petition.

“They have asked me to do it, so I’ll go (to Assam) when the time comes,” he said.

Ahmad, who had executed two convicts at the same jail in 1989 and 1990, said he believed he was the only person left in the country with the experience of hanging.

“I learnt it from my father, but my sons are not into it; they have their own work,” Ahmad said. Of the two sons, Nissar is a small trader while Hidayat works as a tailor. Besides, Ahmad also has two daughters.

“I used to know Kallu (another hangman) from Meerut, but he and his son, Mamu, are no more,” Ahmad said. “There was also someone in Bengal (Nata Mullick), but he too passed away as did Rao (from Madhya Pradesh). I don’t think there is any other hangman left in the country,” he said.

“Kallu and I were there for the execution of Indira Gandhi’s killers Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh,” he said. “Kallu did the hanging, but I was there too, since it was a very special case,” he said.

Nata Mullick had performed the last hanging of the country in 2004 when he executed Dhananjoy Chatterjee, charged with rape and murder in Calcutta.

While the requisition for carrying out executions comes only once in a while, Ahmad, in his fifties, keeps himself occupied doing odd jobs “mazdoori kar leta hoon,” he said.

Asked about his charges, Ahmad said it depended on where he had to go for the execution and the “pareshani (hassles)” involved. According to him, the remuneration generally comprised a daily allowance, besides to and fro fare from the place of execution. As for the execution itself, he says, “Hazaar mil jata hain per head (I get Rs 1,000 per head).”

Ahmad says the hanging per se was not a difficult job and did not require much preparation.

“One has to be there at least a day in advance to check a few things like the rope to be used for the hanging and other small details. “It is definitely not the way it is projected in the films... woh to badha chadhakar dikhate hain (they exaggerate),” he said.

The executioner, who has 35 to 40 hangings to his credit, said he did not suffer any guilt pangs about his work. “The court decides and the government tells me to do it, so I do it. I just do my duty,” he said.

He agrees, though, that the convict was also human. “I get my sukun (solace) from the thought that the convict had done something terrible for which he has been handed such a harsh punishment. I am only a medium, carrying out that punishment,” he said.

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