Meerut (Uttar Pradesh): The long wait is over for Pawan Kumar. The aspiring hangman is set to get his first assignment after the Supreme Court rejected the plea of Surinder Koli, the rapist-cum-serial killer of Nithari, to revoke the death sentence awarded to him earlier. It took time but Kumar was confident that Koli would not escape the noose.
“I am all set to perform the execution and have already done a trial run with a sand bag equal to the weight of the prisoner. I have been eagerly waiting for this moment all my life," 52-year-old Kumar, a resident of Meerut, told Firstpost.
42-year-old Koli, who brutally killed children and women and ate their body parts in Nithari locality of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, was awarded death sentence by a lower court, which was upheld by the Allahabad High Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2011. While 16 cases were filed against Koli, he has been awarded death sentence in four of them so far and others are still under trial.
Explaining how executions are conducted, he said: “The entire process of hanging takes around 15-20 minutes. The criminal is brought and made to stand on a special platform. A mask is put on him. A narrow diameter noose is looped around the prisoner’s neck. After getting a go ahead from the authority concerned, I pull the lever and the platform splits, resulting in the hanging of the prisoner.”
Asked if humanitarian feelings do not cloud his mind when he is at the job, Kumar added, “I am doing a noble job by eliminating criminals from the society. Hanging a person requires guts, which I have. Everyone cannot hang people. When I walk to the scaffold, it is only the criminal family who sees me as a devil.”
Asked whether it does not feel bad when people call him ‘jallad’ (hangman), Kumar replied in the negative. “I am helping the government punish a criminal. I am doing something which the society should be proud of. If we don’t hang criminals, they won’t be afraid of anything,” he explained.
Kumar has inherited the job from his father who, in turn, took over from his father. “I am taking family’s legacy forward. My father and grandfather both were government registered executioners,” he said.
In his 40-year career, Kumar’s grandfather Kalu Ram executed at least 60 people, including one of the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was gunned down by her two bodyguards in 1984.
Kumar learned the technique of hanging from his grandfather. “I accompanied my grandfather in five executions that took place in Agra in 1988 and Jaipur (Rajasthan), Allahabad and Patiala (Punjab) in 1989. At that time, my grandfather had grown old. He was only present on the site and I did everything under his supervision from placing noose around the neck of the prisoner to pulling the lever,” said Kumar, who is waiting for his maiden execution.
After Kalu Ram, Kumar’s father Mamu Singh started following the family practice in 1989 and carried out around six executions. Kumar, the father of seven children, is paid Rs 3,000 from the Uttar Pradesh government as the “retention fees”.
Terming the sum “insufficient” to make both ends meet, Kumar said he has to ferry clothes. “Despite serving the government, I don’t have the privileges like regular state employees. There is no provision of pension, provident fund and insurance. Why should my children practice the same trade? This is despite the government struggling to find executioners in a country of 1.2 billion people,” complained Kumar. Kumar is the only registered executioner in the state.
Meerut Senior Jail Superintendent SHM Rizvi accepted that there is no other hangman in the state but said the executioner is “not a regular government employee”. “We pay him a retention fees, which has recently been raised to Rs 3,000,” he added.
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Oct 29, 2014 10:27:25 IST