India’s Search For a… Hangman

“The pay is not very good for hangmen, partly because of the paucity of hangings, but also because the job is considered contract work.” Here in the United States, there is little indifference towards the death penalty. It is a polarizing practice, which people either enthusiastically support or very vocally condemn. In India, the death penalty is not regarded in such black-and-white terms. The country’s death penalty is a remnant from the days of British rule, which determined that hanging, rather than firing squad or lethal injection, would be the accepted method of killing condemned criminals. But in the decades since the end of British rule, legal battles over the death penalty have raged and India’s laws have been modified over the years to the point where the actual hanging executions are very, very rare. In fact, the last hanging occurred in India in 2004. At the link, you’ll read the very interesting story of how the Indian government recently had to hunt high and low for a willing and certified hangman executioner to carry out a death sentence handed down to a murderer in the northeastern state of Assam. In a country of 1.2 billion people, you wouldn’t think that finding such a rarely-needed professional as a hangman would be that difficult. But, well, it was. (The New York Times – Hunting a Hanging Pro)