As the country waits with bated breath for the execution of the four convicts in the infamous December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, Buxar Jail in Bihar has again come in news for one reason– making hanging ropes.
Buxar jail have supplied the nose for Naturam Godse, who was sent to gallows in November 1949, for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, 1993 Bombay bomb blasts convict, Yakub Memom, 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks culprit Ajmal Kasab, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard in Kolkata for raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh convicted in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, all were hanged by ropes made in this jail.
Ever wondered what is the reason why hanging ropes are made on in Buxar Central Jail.
Actually, Buxar jail has been making execution ropes since 1880 and the tradition was started by the British rulers–16 years after the East India Company established full control over the region extending from Bengal to Uttar Pradesh at the Battle of Buxar on October 23, 1764.
Four years later, that is in 1884, the British brought a machine in the Buxar jail to manufacture hanging ropes.
Before that, the hanging ropes were imported from Manila, the capital of Phillippines and hence the name Manila Rope is popular for this grade of the noose.
Later on the Indian Factories Act, gave Buxar Central Jail, the exclusive rights to make the hanging ropes and other jails are prohibited,
Buxar Central Jail has a power loom inside its premises for the purpose of making hanging ropes. It is overseen by employees of designated for the purpose.
The jail has four to five posts for such employees. They train the inmates for rope making. Usually, senior inmates typically those serving life sentences are employed in making hanging ropes and utmost care is taken in not employing death row convicts for this work as they are not employed in any work in the jail.
Before starting with work, once the Buxar gets directive to prepare the hanging ropes, the prisoners making such ropes follow religious and spiritual practices. They observe fast to ensure their mental and physical purity before beginning the work and pray.
The said prisoners throw a stone on the direction where they are supposed to knit the hanging rope with the belief that they may never get the news of a death sentence,
Superintendent of Buxar Central Jail Vijay Kumar Arora said the hanging rope making is a complex task.
A group of eight prisoners fashion the ropes, ten in number with the help of a power loom through the twist and torque using J-30 cotton.
A particular type of yarn, called J-34 is used for making the hanging rope. The cotton for this yarn is cultivated in Punjab, which supplies the raw material to Buxar jail.
J-34 fiber are braided into yarns. A total of 154 such yarns are woven to prepare 154 braids. Six such braids are used to make a hanging rope.
A huge quantity of water is used to make sure that hanging rope is soft. The rule of execution says that the hanging rope has to cause death of the condemned prisoner but cannot inflict any injury on the neck. It is ascertained in the post mortem of the body.
Arora said ” one rope is prepared with 7,200 fine threads– all merged by hand-rolled with a bronze brush and treated with certain chemicals so that each can bear up to 150 kg weight. A sum of Rs 1,700 is the cost of making one such rope and the whole process takes about three days, it is believed that the task was given to Buxar jail by the British keeping in mind the climate and availability of water near the jail. Buxar Central Jail is located on the banks of the Ganga and also has well inside the premises, an uncommon feature in jails.
Humidity is another factor essential for making the hanging rope. Humid conditions make the rope smoother and yet stronger. Another reason, the ropes got the name in the Philippines because they are made of fiber obtained from the leaves of the Abaca tree that grows in the island nation.
That fiber is called Manila hemp. The Manila rope made in Buxar is, however, not made from this hemp.
As the suspense continues over the hanging of the four convicts, a Delhi court on January 31, postponed the execution of the death warrant on February 1, on the convicts till further orders.
The Delhi High Court on February 2, in a special hearing on a Sunday, reserved its verdict on the Centre’s plea challenging stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case.
On December 16, 2012, a paramedical student was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six men in a private bus and thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend.
The girl died on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she airlifted by an air ambulance on December 27, 2012, at midnight.
All the four convicts were sentenced to capital punishment. The order has been upheld by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.
The incident generated widespread outrage across India and abroad. The fifth convict , Ram Singh, described at the main suspect was found dead in Tihar Jail from possible suicide on March 11, 2013. The sixth accused, a juvenile, was released from the correction Home on December 20, 2015, after he completed three years in the Home.