Sunday, August 15, 2004


Hangman, 84, falls ill after drinking, execution:

For all his experience and braggadocio,
84-year-old hangman Nata Mallick fell sick and had to be carried home on a stretcher Saturday after he hanged a man for raping and murdering a schoolgirl.

Mallick, who carried out his 25th execution when he hanged Dhananjoy Chatterjee at Alipore Jail here, complained of giddiness shortly before the hanging and asked to be given some time to "collect himself".

Mallick's youngest son, Tarak, told reporters his father started feeling unwell and sweated profusely before the hanging.

"He told us he wanted a little rest after which he would see if he could do it. Everyone got worried. But after a while he said he would do it," Tarak said.

Mallick, a third generation hangman who has been in the business for over six decades and
has often bragged about his mental strength, felt strong enough to proceed with his preparations. His sons Mahadev and Tarak and his grandson Prabhat assisted him.

The hanging went off smoothly, but after the dead convict had been removed and the body sent for cremation,
Mallick was carried in a stretcher into a waiting ambulance.

The ambulance then drove him to his home in a southern Kolkata neighbourhood. Three jail doctors attended Mallick, a heavyset, dark man with strong limbs and shiny silver hair.

"The doctors told us he is not in danger," Tarak said.

Meanwhile, a jail official, refusing to be identified, said Mallick's illness
could be because of drinking. The hangman had told reporters days before the execution that the night before a hanging he always consumes liquor. "It steels my nerves," he had said.

The ageing hangman's drinking habits are well known.
He had even asked for either liquor or money to buy liquor from reporters who went to his home to interview him.

Jail sources said Mallick could have consumed more liquor than his body could take.