On death row, youngest of Nirbhaya accused spends anxious moments

Vinay Sharma has received the maximum punishment for violating rules, said sources at Delhi's Tihar jail

Of the four men on death row in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, the youngest, Vinay Sharma, is the most anxious and is often seen walking restlessly inside his cell, sources in Tihar Jail said as uncertainty continues over the execution of the death warrant against them.

The 26-year-old is also the one who has received the maximum punishment for violating rules, said the sources in the jail, where the convicts have been kept for seven years. The four – Vinay, Akshay Kumar Singh (31), Mukesh Kumar Singh (32) and Pawan Gupta (25) – are scheduled to be hanged on January 22.

However, on Wednesday, the Delhi government informed the high court that the execution will not take place on the day as one of the four, Mukesh, has filed a mercy plea. Vinay, who took painting lessons in jail, has received 11 punishments for not following rules, Pawan eight, Mukesh three and Akshay one during their seven years in Tihar. The punishment could range from curtailing visiting rights from family for a small fight to changing the barracks for a bigger, more serious fight, the sources explained.

Also read: Execution of Nirbhaya convicts will not take place on Jan 22: Delhi govt to HC

Jail authorities have been daily holding conversations with the convicts to ensure they are in a good mental state, they said. In 2015, Vinay took admission in a one-year bachelor’s degree programme which he could not complete. The year before, Mukesh, Pawan and Akshay took admission in Class 10 in 2016, and appeared for the exam but could not pass it.

They have not named the beneficiary of their daily wages earned for basic, everyday jobs done in the jail. The amount will be handed over to their family in case they do not finalise the name, the jail sources added. Vinay has earned Rs 39,000, Akshay Rs 69,000 and Pawan Rs 29,000 while Mukesh did not involve himself in any work, they said.

The family of all the four convicts are allowed to meet them twice a week. Vinay’s father came to meet him on Tuesday and Mukesh’s mother also keeps visiting him, an official said. Pawan’s family members to visit him and last saw him on January 7, he said. But Akshay’s wife last came to meet him in November and he has had no visitors from the family since the pronouncement of the execution date.

Also read: Nirbhaya gang-rape: SC dismisses curative petitions of two death row convicts

However, he regularly speaks to his wife over the phone, the jail official added. Jail authorities, he added, have asked the four convicts when they would want to meet their families one last time before the execution but none of them has responded yet. A Delhi court had issued their death warrants on January 7. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the curative pleas of Mukesh and Vinay.

On January 13, a team of prison officials performed a dummy execution of the four convicts. The dummies were created using sacks filled with debris and stones as per the weight of the convicts. The four men are convicted for savagely raping a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, on the intervening night of December 16-17 in Delhi. Her injuries were so brutal that she died in a Singapore hospital a fortnight later.

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