Kerala has gone for the kill with a fat pay-packet for the man who does the dirty job – hang the death row convicts.
Facing an acute shortage of jail hangmen, the jail department submitted a suggestion to hike their fee from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2 lakh.
The move has virtually opened the floodgates.
"According to 1957 jail manuals a hangman gets Rs. 500 for a single execution. Since it wasn't renewed all these years a suggestion was given to renew it substantially. It really triggered a massive response," said Kannur central jail superintendent Ashokan Arippa.
Kannur central jail alone got more than 70 applications for the job. The state has 3 central jails.
A senior officer of the jail department said they arrived at the handsome amount after calculating the value of the fee then (1957) and other related factors.
Earlier, there were hangmen's families and princely states pampered them well. But after independence their numbers dwindled and at times jails officials doubled up as hangmen.
Since the task involves a lot mental stress, now most of them are unwilling to carry out the official execution. Besides this, returns were meagre.
Interestingly, most of the applicants have pleaded jail authorities not to disclose their identity fearing stigma. Some of them have made interesting offers also -- an applicant has promised to execute all 16 on the death roll in a day to ease his heavy debt and another made an offer to execute rapist-killer Govindachamy free of cost.
Govindachamy was sentenced to death for pushing a girl out of a running train, raping and killing her on the tracks.
"We have no plan to recruit them permanently and keep them on the rolls. But at the same time we have ensure their ready availability. So we have to offer them a good amount," said another official of the jail department.