God has heard our prayers. I am the happiest person today. How could I see my son being hanged after serving so many years in prison? I am smiling after 18 years. This is how Kusumbala Das (80),mother of Mahendra Nath Das,whose death sentence was commuted by the Supreme Court on Wednesday,reacted.
Kusumbala rushed to the 560-year-old Bohori satra,a Vaishnavite monastery,the moment she was told that the SC would take up her sons Special Leave Petition on Wednesday. I thought this would be my last prayer before God, she said,speaking over the telephone from her village,Bohori in Barpeta district.
Dass sister Pratima said the family would request the authorities to shift him to Guwahati Central Jail. We are poor and cannot afford to travel 400 km to see him. Moreover mother is old and sick, said Pratima,who supports her mother and sister with her anganwadi workers job.
Das has been lodged in Jorhat Central Jail the only prison in the Northeast which has facilities for hanging for the past two years or more after he was shifted there following the rejection of his mercy petition by the President on May 27,2011.
Das was convicted for murdering Harakanta Das on April 24,1996. He was awarded death sentence by the Sessions Judge,Kamrup (Guwahati),on August 18,1997. The order was confirmed by the Gauhati High Court on February 3,1998 and upheld by the SC on May 14,1999. When his mercy petition,filed on June 4,1999,was rejected by the President in May 2011,Das wanted to know why the Presidents office took 12 years to reject it. His mother filed a writ petition in the HC seeking a direction to prohibit the execution of death sentence and for alteration of death sentence into life imprisonment. That was,however,rejected. In August 2012,Das went on a fast-unto-death demanding abolition of capital punishment,but had to discontinue it after he was admitted to a hospital.
Harakantas family has expressed satisfaction over the SC order. We had earlier demanded death sentence for him. But when we saw his poor family and ailing mother,we agreed to accept the SCs verdict, said Harakantas son Amal Das.