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The Rediff Special/M Chhaya in Kolkata
Hangman keeps noose under wraps
August 04, 2004
It was from a neighbour that Nata Mallick heard the news.
"The television channels are saying Presidentsahib has ordered the hanging," he says.
But Mallick is not knotting the noose just yet. Neither is he bringing out his ropes, soap and ripe bananas.
"I will wait for the government to tell me what is happening," says the 82-old hangman.
Mallick is the man the authorities will turn to when they decide on the date of Dhananjoy Chatterjee's execution.
Chatterjee's plea for clemency was turned down by President A P J Abdul Kalam on Wednesday.
He was convicted of the rape and murder of 14-year-old Hetal Parekh in Kolkata in 1990.
A lower court in Kolkata sentenced him to death in 1992, a verdict upheld subsequently by the higher courts, including the Supreme Court.
But Chatterjee continued to win a reprieve, appealing to the West Bengal governor and twice to the President.
This, however, seems to be the end of the road for Chatterjee, now 39.
The West Bengal government says it has yet to get a copy of the President's note rejecting Chatterjee's appeal.
"We will revive the execution process once we get the documents from New Delhi," says a state law ministry official.
Mallick too wants to wait because he says he has been "fooled" once.
He felt denied when despite all his preparations Chatterjee's execution was called off just hours before the June 25 execution.
"I was ready on June 24 having carried out trials and briefed by my helpers. The government car was to have picked us up the next day, but then we heard that the hanging was off," Mallick told rediff.com at his south Kolkata home.
A trial means testing the strength of the woodwork from which the convict is to be hanged and checking the footboard.
Mallick, who will be helped by his son and grandson, carried out four trials with sandbags. He waxed the noose made from special ropes, applied soap and ripe bananas to make it slide smoothly on the convict's neck.
All of that went in vain. Now the process has to be repeated.
At least 20 days has to lapse between the rejection of a plea for clemency and the execution.
Mallick says that is enough time for him to get things in place.
Dhananjoy Chatterjee will be the 25th person Mallick has hanged in his career.