Hindalga jail clears decks for hangings

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Shivu Munishetti and Jadeswamy Rangashetti.Belgum: Six months after the clemency petitions of four associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, he has done the same for two other death row criminals, currently languishing in Hindalga Central Prison of Belgaum.

According to sources in the Prisons Department, the two criminals, Shivu Munishetti and Jadeswamy Rangashetti (both residents of Bhadrayanahalli in Kollegal taluk, Chamarajanagar district), who were convicted of rape and murder of a woman, are expected to be hanged at the Hindalga jail on August 22.

Due to the delay in hanging of Veerappan’s associates, the lawyers of Munishetti and Rangashetti had managed to get their hanging stayed by moving the Supreme Court in February. This time, the state government is expected to send both of them to the gallows once the court issues ‘black warrant’ in the next two days.

As soon as the President rejected clemency petition of the duo, a jailer from Hindalga prison had left for Chamarajanagar to obtain the black-warrant from the District and Sessions Court of Chamarajanagar, which had first sentenced the two to death in July 2005. Once the court issues black-warrant, it will have the date and time to carry out the hanging, according to sources. Already, the jail authorities are making arrangements to carry out the hangings. As per the guidelines, one of the jailers from Hindalga will perform the task.

According to prison sources, the gallows were readied ever since the President gave the green signal to hang the four Veerappan associates in February this year. At the Hindalga prison gallows, a maximum of three prisoners can hanged at a time.

The District and Sessions Court of Chamaranagar which heard their case sentenced them to death on July 30, 2005. Later, the two moved the High Court, which upheld the lower court’s sentence in November 2005. In a last ditch effort, both of them appealed against the High Court order in the Supreme Court, but the latter  upheld the High Court’s verdict in 2007.

The two were brought to the condemned cells of Hindalga prison in November 2005, soon after the Chamarajanagar court verdict. According to jail authorities, the two had filed an application with the President for clemency on February 28, 2007.

The Union Home Ministry after going through their criminal records and the court verdicts, recommended the President to reject their clemency petition in April this year. The President rejected their mercy petition last week and gave a green signal for their hanging.

The Hindalga prison will carry out a hanging after a gap of 30 years. The last prisoner to be hanged here was in 1983 and before that six prisoners were hanged on the same day in 1981.

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