President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday rejected the mercy petitions of four associates of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan -- Gnanaprakasham, Simon, Meeskar and Bilavendran.
The four were sentenced to death by the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court for killing 21 policemen at Palar in Karnataka. The Karnataka high court has earlier commuted the death sentences to life terms. But the Supreme Court in 2004 reversed the high court’s order and upheld the death sentence awarded by the TADA court.
Meanwhile, an execution will take place in a Karnataka jail after 30 years. The last person to be hanged in the state was Hanumanth Mallaa in 1983.
The four men are likely to be executed at Belgaum’s Hindalga jail, the only prison in the state which has convicts on the death row.
Hindalga currently has 61 prisoners on death row. The four men are likely to be executed on the same day -- as is the norm for death row inmates convicted for the same crime.
Authorities at Hindalga jail face a Herculean task as they will have to make arrangements to carry out four hangings on the same day. Other jails in Karnataka are not equipped to execute a death sentence.
The executions will have to commence early in the day; the four hangings need to be completed before sunrise. Since a body has to be kept hanging for half-an-hour after the act, authorities have to ensure an interval of 30 minutes between each hanging.