In perhaps the most secret operation ever, India sent to the gallows one of its worst enemies, Ajmal Kasab on Wednesday, thus ending a most debated chapter in Indian history about the fate of one of the 26/11 perpetrators. However, while Kasab may have jumped the queue to the gallows, 20 others with similar storyline, still await their turn and are languishing in various Gujarat jails for want of a speedy decision.
These 20 convicts accused of serious offences like murder, rape, waging war against the Union of India and drug trafficking wait till a decision on their mercy petitions are taken by the judiciary, the Union government or the President. Of these 20, 11 are lodged in Vadodara Jail, while nine are in Sabarmati Central Jail.
These convicts, apart from being confined to highly fortified security yards, are hardly different from the other prisoners. While 11 are from Godhra, convicted for their active role in the attack on the Sabarmati Express, the remaining nine are from different cities of the state like Jamnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh and Ahmedabad.
“These accused need to lodged in any of the high security central jails, and hence all of them have been divided in Sabarmati and Vadodara Central Jails,” explained PC Thakur, additional director general of police, Prisons. He said that the applications of all these accused are pending at different levels like the High Court and Supreme Court.
However, no mercy petition from any of these 20 convicts has so far reached the President. “It will take some more years to reach that level. Normally it is a very long process to hang a convict even after an accused has been awarded capital punishment,” Thakur said, adding that the President is the final authority to decide on a convict’s mercy petition.
However, for these accused, the wait is very long. Take for instance the case of Omkarnath Sajuka, a convict lodged in the Sabarmati jail since 2003 and who was awarded capital punishment on February 26, 2008. “He approached the Gujarat HC and his application is still pending there,” Thakur said.