Is hanging painful?: Asks jittery Nithari butcher Surinder Koli

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Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Sep 11: Nithari killer Surendra Koli is spending anxious last days in prison here as he awaits the hangman's noose, reads religious books, and asks officials whether hanging is "painful".

Having missed the noose by hours Monday after the Supreme Court deferred his execution by a week, Koli is spending uneasy moments inside his high-security prison cell and has turned to religious books. Koli is now in Meerut jail after his death warrant was issued. He was shifted out of the Dasna prison in Ghaziabad which housed him for almost a decade.

Usually normal and to himself, the news of his impending execution triggered "depression and anxiety" in the man who reportedly never repented what he had done. He was arrested from the D-5 Kothi in Noida in 2005 after news of the sensational killing of children broke in the village of Nithari skirting a middle class Noida neighourhood. Most of the killed were children of household helps and others who worked in Noida homes as drivers, guards, etc.

"He (Koli) is enquiring from prison staff about the date when he would be hung and was the whole procedure a painful and long one," a prison official told IANS.

He is also spotted at times mumbling what the prison staff says is 'Hanuman Chalisa' and some Hindu hymns.

Largely though, prison officials say he is aloof and "not in a mood to talk much".

"He is most of the time expressionless but, yes, of late anxiety is writ large on his face and that is for all to see," said a source.

Koli's mother Kunti Devi met him in the prison Thursday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad issued the death warrant to Koli after his mercy petition was rejected by the president.

He was convicted for the murder of a girl, Rimpa Halder, who went missing in Noida in December 2006. After a police investigation, she was found to have been murdered by Koli. During the probe, the skeletal remains of many other children were recovered from a drain adjacent to a house in Nithari, an area in Noida where Koli worked as a domestic help for businessman Moninder Singh Pandher.

Both Koli and Pandher were sentenced to death, but later the Allahabad High Court acquitted Pandher and upheld Koli's death sentence.

Having got no clemency from the president, Koli is said to have retreated "in a shell" and "given up" on the legal fight.

At the time of the apex court's order to stop his execution for a week, the Meerut prison was being "readied" for the execution which would have been the first in Uttar Pradesh in 23 years.

Pawan, the hangman, had done his duty of checking the hanging platform and the strength of the manila rope, specially brought from the Naini prison in Allahabad.

Hours before the apex court delayed his execution, Koli's blood pressure had dropped and he had started showing signs of fear, the panel of doctors who do a routine check-up on him twice a day told prison officials.

Jail Superintendent Mohammad Hussain Mustafa Rizvi said that the serial killer had asked for some religious books which were provided to him.

He also asked many of them what the actual procedure of 'phansi' (hanging) was, the jail official said.

Biding his time by reading religious scriptures, he had initially refused to eat but has now started eating meals given by prison staff.

He loves "urad ki dal, and lauki ki sabzi" and that is what he is being given with a few chapatis, an official told IANS.

His daily report is also being sent to the prison headquarters in Lucknow and the schedule will continue till he is executed.

Koli was to be executed between Sep 10 and 12, but a bench of Chief Justice-designate Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Anil R. Dave passed the order in the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, suspending Koli's execution on his appeal. Koli was represented by counsel, Indira Jaising.

In the past, 17 convicts have been hung in the Chowdhary Charan Singh prison in Meerut. The last death sentence executed in UP was in 1991 when Jumman, a criminal was sent to the gallows in Agra prison.

IANS

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