As their end nears, the fear of death has gripped the rapists of Nirbhaya, which is reflected amply by their behaviour in prison. Since the day the convicts’ third death warrant was issued, their restlessness heightened. One of them bangs his head on the wall; another refuses to eat. This is what is left of the life of Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta in Tihar Jail.
Tihar sources say that Vinay injured himself by hitting his head on the wall of his cell in Barrack 3 on 16 February. He is reportedly restless beyond redemption. He could not injure himself to death, though.
Vinay also tried to entangle his arms around the grills of his cell to injure himself and get some more days of relief, as there exists a rule in the jail manual that a grievously injured inmate cannot be hanged.
Security personnel intervened, stopped him and got him treated at the health centre inside the jail. Jail officials said his injury was not grievous.
The convicts’ lawyer AP Singh told the court during a hearing that Vinay Sharma was also on hunger strike in the jail. His weight has dropped drastically.
A day after he injured himself, his mother came to see him but Vinay refused to recognise her.
Prison sources say that once the death warrant was issued, the culprits knew they had to die. The Supreme Court had told them they must exhaust their remaining legal recourses within a week of the fresh death warrant and that period is gone.
Vinay had exhausted his options anyway. His last petition, filed three days before the previously slated date of execution, was rejected on 14 February. He sits quietly in his cell sometimes or paces up and down his cell. Pawan Gupta is the only convict who could have appealed to the president for clemency but he hasn’t.
Convicts other than Vinay
The jail administration is keeping a close watch on all the convicts. They are under the watch of CCTV cameras.
The security personnel ensure that none of Mukesh, Akshay, Vinay and Pawan tries to commit suicide. Four guards have been appointed to supervise them. Wardens have been asked to monitor CCTV cameras installed in the convicts’ cells around the clock. Also, guards are stationed outside their cells.
The jail authority has limited their contact with other inmates so that no inmate develops an emotional relationship with them.
All the four convicts are allowed to visit their parents, though they have refused these meetings many times. All efforts are being made to keep them mentally fit.
Sources said that the convicts on death row tend to behave violently so that they get hurt and they are able to postpone the hanging for some more time. Jail officials said if a convict is injured or his weight is reduced so much that the suspension of the body during the execution does not snap the neck, the execution can be postponed until the convict recovers.