Over 16 guards are stationed outside the four cells at Tihar Jail where the December 16 gangrape-murder convicts are imprisoned, in a bid to “ensure they don’t harm themselves”. A senior jail official said, “This is a major concern for us. So, we have stationed extra guards, there are CCTVs scanning every minute, and they are in cells that don’t have ceiling fans.”
On Wednesday, the Delhi government told the Delhi High Court that the execution cannot take place on January 22, as earlier decided, due to a mercy petition pending before the President of India. In a day or two, the four men — Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24), Vinay Sharma (25) and Akshay Kumar Singh (33) — will be moved to cells in jail number 3, where they will be executed once the date is set again, said a jail source.
“We are prepared to carry out the execution of all four together or in pairs at the new gallows in jail 3. We asked Pawan Jallad, the hangman from Meerut, to be in Delhi by January 20. Now that there is a delay, we will decide when to call him here,” said a jail source. Jail authorities have proposed paying the executioner Rs 15,000 per hanging but no final decision has been taken yet.
On January 7, when the death warrant was issued, the four convicts were moved to isolated cells. “Earlier they were either in barracks or cells and could interact with fellow prisoners. Now they are isolated. Daily, they meet a psychologist for 15-30 minutes each. A doctor does their physical examination too. We have allowed them to meet their families as well, as we believe it would help them mentally,” said Delhi Prisons DG Sandeep Goel.
The four have access to some newspapers as well, said a jail source. They are given meals inside their cells — 7.30 am (tea with light breakfast), 11.30 am (lunch) and 6 pm (dinner). “There is some area outside their cells where they can walk around. When jail authorities interact with them, our main aim is to project we are neutral and we reassure them that they will get all the legal and medical facilities they can avail,” said a source.
Ropes brought from Buxar are being tested regularly. A source said, “Traditionally, executions take place early in the morning. After the execution, the post-mortem is conducted and bodies are handed over to the families.”
Convict Singh, said a source, is most “hopeful,” said a source, adding, “When we asked him why he hasn’t asked his wife to meet him since November, he said there is time.” Convict Gupta was sent to Mandoli Jail from Tihar Jail on June 22, 2019, and was sent back to Tihar jail on December 8, 2019. During their stay at the Jail, Singh did “tailoring and worked in the atta chakki unit,” Gupta worked in the “canteen,” and Sharma was a “helper, who also painted.” Mukesh, said a source, refused to work.
As per the death warrant for January 22, the time slotted was 7 am.