Within minutes of a city court refusing to stay the hanging of the four men convicted in the December 16 gang rape case, senior prison officers in Tihar Jail started final preparations for the execution on Friday morning. Prison officials said that on Thursday afternoon, the four convicts were told to prepare their wills and make a final wish, but until late Thursday night, they were yet to inform jail authorities about their wishes or a will.
At exactly 5.30am on Friday, the four men—Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma—will be hanged simultaneously inside jail number 3.
Jail officers said that on Thursday they carried out dummy executions inside phansi kotha(hanging courtyard). Late Thursday evening, jail officers along with the hangman Pawan Jallad inspected the hanging courtyard for the final time before the execution.
Watch | ‘Will fight on,’ says victim’s mother after hanging of 2012 Delhi gang rape convicts
The 10 pieces of rope that were brought from Buxar, Bihar, and tied to the beams at the gallows were checked. The rope has been dipped in butter or wax by prisoners of Buxar Jail and is prepared in such a way that it does not decapitate convicts during the hanging. The lever was also checked by performing a dummy hanging using a sandbag.
Around the same time on Thursday evening, the relatives of the four men came to the prison to meet the four convicts, lodged separately in four different cells and guarded round-the-clock by prison guards. “They are yet to tell us about their wills. They look nervous and are anxious, but have not told us anything. Maybe they have realised that they have exhausted all legalities,” said a prison officer.
The officer added that the execution process will be complete before 6.30am. A prison officer, detailing Friday’s hanging process, said that at around 4am, the jail superintendent will meet the four men and offer them tea or breakfast.
“They will be given the option of bathing or praying if they wish to. Around 5 am, the district magistrate or additional district magistrate will reach the prison and ask them about their will, if any. The four men will then be brought separately to the gallows, about 150 yards away from their cells. Their hands and legs will be tied, in accordance with the prison manual. Jail officers also have to cover the faces of the convicts with a black cloth. The hangman will pull the lever at exactly 5.30am,” the prison officer, who did not wish to be named, said. Prison officers started tying the hands of convicts before hanging them because, in the early 1970s, a death-row convict had refused to be hanged and attempted to escape each time the noose was tied around his neck.
Prison officers said that there won’t be more than 10-12 persons present at the hanging courtyard during the execution. Apart from the hangman, the other prison officers would include the director general, the additional director general, the jail superintendent, the deputy superintendent, the jail doctor, resident medical officers, the district magistrate or the additional district magistrate, and a few guards.
The four men had assaulted and gang-raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy student inside a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. The woman died at a hospital in Singapore two weeks later.
The last hanging that took place inside Tihar was of Afzal Guru’s on February 9, 2013. Guru was convicted for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack case. However, there was no hangman. A prison officer, whose identity was never revealed, executed him.