The hanging of Kasab brought one big question to mind – who was the hangman? Well, his name, for obvious reasons had been kept a top secret but everyone and sundry knows that he was paid Rs.5000 for the job.
Well, hangman as a profession? In a country where we do not have too much of capital punishment, how do these hangmen elk out a living and more importanty, what makes them choose this profession? And it seems this is one profession, not surprisingly, does not have too many applying for the job. Prior to Kasab, the last hanging was in 2004 in Assam and at that time too, they could not find a hangman. The nation’s handful of known hangmen had either died, retired or disappeared. And they had found one in Uttar Pradesh - Kalu Kumar, himself the nephew of a hangman, in 1989 was the hangman for one of the two assassins of Indira Gandhi. He died and passed on his trade to his son, Mammu Singh, who claimed to have performed 11 hangings. He died in May 2004 and his eldest son, Pawan Kumar, applied for government certification as a hangman and got the job. And he says in a macabre way that he just wants to continue with his ‘family business’.
The pay is not very good for hangmen, partly because of the paucity of hangings, but also because the job is considered contract work. Well, every job is a job and it is somehow creepy to know that some pass on this job too down the generations. Hopefully, we will not need too many hangmen in India!