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Mercy plea rejected; Assam killer set to be hanged
Guwahati, May 29 (IANS):
Published on 29 May. 2011 10:48 PM IST
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Fifteen years after he walked into a police station with a severed head and blood dripping sword in his hand, Mahendra Nath Das is now all set to be sent to the gallows with his mercy petition rejected by President Pratibha Patil.
Das, now aged 49, is lodged at the Jorhat Jail in eastern Assam with preparations on at the prison for his execution.
"Already, we have started preparations for the execution, but we need to get a hangman from either Bihar or Uttar Pradesh as we don't have anyone here in Assam," a jail official said.
April 24, 1996. Time around 7 a.m. Das entered the Fancy Bazar police outpost in the heart of Assam's Guwahati city with a severed head and the blood dripping weapon before placing it on the verandah. He was immediately arrested and a sessions court in 1997 sentenced him to death.
Das, in a fit of anger, murdered 68-year-old Harakanta Das, then secretary of the Guwahati Truck Drivers Association while he was sipping his morning cup of tea at a roadside stall accompanied by at least half-a-dozen other acquaintances.
"The appellant amputated the right hand and thereafter severed the head of Harakanta Das. With the head of the deceased in one hand and the blood dripping weapon in the other hand, he moved majestically towards Fancy Bazar police outpost," the court ruling sentencing Das to death read.
Thereafter, a long drawn legal battle ensued, with the now 74-year-old mother of Mahendra Nath Das appealing for mercy.
"I am still hopeful and pray my son's death sentence is reversed and made into life imprisonment," said his mother Kusumbala Das, currently bedridden with old age ailments at her village home in Bohori in the western Barpeta district.
But the victim's son Amal Das, a businessman, is praying for justice to be delivered.
"I am looking for that day when he is hanged until death," Amal told IANS as tears welled up in his eyes as he recollected the ghastly incident narrated to him earlier by witnesses.
But the condemned prisoner said in December while being brought for health checkup at the Gauhati Medical College that he was not given a fair trial. "I have no regrets for killing him as they attempted to take my life. I already completed 14 years in prison and then why should there be double punishment for me now. I was not given a fair trial," Mahendra Nath Das had said.
"I should not be hanged as I already completed life imprisonment term of 14 years in jail."
Even as preparations are on for the execution, rights groups have questioned the concept of capital punishment.
"Reports that India will execute two men (Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das) after an encouraging seven-year hiatus are hugely disappointing, and would be a step backwards for human rights in the country," Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director Sam Zarifi said in a statement.
"For India to revive capital punishment now would also be bucking the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty, with numbers of executions continuing to decline," Zarifi added.
Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2001 for plotting terror attacks that killed nine people in Delhi in 1993.
Although India voted against the resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, 2008 and 2010, President Patil had commuted the death sentences of 20 prisoners since November 2009, an Amnesty report claimed.
The last execution in India was carried out in Kolkata in August 2004 when Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged for raping and killing a school girl.

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