With Delhi going to polls on February 8, the delay in executing the death sentence of four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case has turned into an election issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) engaged in a bitter war of words on Thursday over the issue. While the BJP blamed the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government for alleged complicity and sympathies for four on the death row, the AAP in turn accused the saffron party of allegedly instigating people with lies.
It all began with BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar alleging that the four would have been executed if the AAP government acted quickly and served notices to the four immediately after the Supreme Court rejected their appeal against death sentence in 2017. In reply, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia dared the Centre to handover Delhi’s law and order to AAP for two days, claiming it will hang the convicts in the 2012 gangrape and murder case.
“If they have not been hanged yet, it is due to the AAP government’s negligence… This delay of over two and a half years is due to the complicity of Delhi’s AAP government. It has sympathies with these convicts, and this (delay) is a result of that,” Javadekar said. However, Sisodia and his party colleague Sanjay Singh said the BJP leader was lying.
“Javadekar ji police is under you (Centre), responsibility of law and order is under you, home ministry is under you, Tihar DG and administration is under you and you are blaming us. Please don’t stoop so low on a sensitive issue. This a clear attempt to instigate the people. I want to ask you (Javadekar) why aren’t you taking responsibility. If you are not able to handle Delhi’s law and order, give us Delhi police and law and order responsibility for two days and we will hang Nirbhaya convicts,” Sisodia said.
The four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape-murder case will not be hanged on January 22 as scheduled, with the Delhi government on Wednesday telling the high court that the execution has to be postponed in view of the pendency of a mercy petition by one of them.
As authorities and the victim’s mother contended that the four men were frustrating and intentionally delaying the legal process by filing curative and mercy pleas in stages to postpone their execution, the Delhi government recommended rejecting Mukesh Kumar Singh’s mercy plea to the President and forwarded it to the Lieutenant Governor. However, Sisodia said that the action was taken at “lightning speed.”
The four convicts – Mukesh (32) Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) — were to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail. A Delhi court had issued their death warrants on January 7.
Convicts shifted to jail No 3 where hanging is to take place
Meanwhile, all the four death-row convicts were shifted on Thursday to Tihar prison complex’s jail number three where their hanging is set to take place, a jail official said. “We have shifted all the four convicts to jail number three of Tihar, where the execution is set to take place,” a senior jail official said. Till now, Vinay Sharma was lodged in jail number four, while Akshay, Mukesh and Pawan were lodged in jail number two of Tihar.
Delhi court to hear plea seeking FIR against sole witness
Meanwhile, Heera Lal Gupta, father of Pawan Kumar Gupta –one of the four death row convicts –moved a Delhi court on Thursday, challenging an order refusing direction of an FIR against the sole eyewitness in the matter.
The application filed by Heera Lal Gupta, has sought a direction to the Delhi police to lodge an FIR against the eyewitness, a friend of the 23-year-old victim, for allegedly giving interviews to various television news channels after charging money. The sessions court put up the matter for hearing on January 27. The magisterial court had dismissed a similar application on January 6.