Nirbhaya convicts on 'suicide watch' in Tihar jail

Prison officials said they are keeping a close watch on the convicts who are lodged in an isolation ward and doctors are monitoring them throughout the day.

With the noose tightening around their necks, the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case are kept on a 'suicide watch' by the Tihar Jail authorities, even as they have been asked to intimate the day on which they wish to meet their families for the last time.

The momentum for the execution gathered pace as Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected curative petitions filed by two convicts, even as Delhi government and prison authorities informed the Delhi High Court that the convicts could not be hanged on January 22, a day fixed by a local court, as one of the four convicts has moved a mercy plea.

A court had, earlier this month, issued a death warrant against Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta, who were convicted in the gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedic in a moving bus in south Delhi on 16 December, 2012. 

One of the convicts, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail while a minor served three years in a juvenile home and was released later.

Prison officials said they were keeping a close watch on the convicts who are lodged in an isolation ward and doctors are monitoring them throughout the day. "We have kept them on a suicide watch and we are interacting with them regularly," a senior official said.

They said the convicts have shown tension and one among them, Vinay, is more depressed than the others. Vinay was also not eating regularly and was often seen walking restlessly in his cell while others are showing signs of calmness, said the officials.

As the Supreme Court rejected the curative petition, jail officials have also conveyed to the convicts to indicate a date on which they would like to meet their families for the last time.

Readying for the execution, jail officials had conducted a dummy execution on Monday. The scheduled hanging on January 22 is now unlikely as an earlier Supreme Court order has said that death row convicts should be given a 14-day period after their mercy plea is rejected.

The police have already contacted Pawan Jallad, a hangman from the Meerut Jail. Per execution, Jallad will be paid Rs Rs 15,000, amid reports indicating that he has demanded more money as remuneration.

In his petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the death warrant, Mukesh had also sought that he be given a 14-day notice about the date of execution if his mercy plea is rejected. The Delhi High Court has rejected Mukesh's plea to quash the death warrant on Wednesday.

Jail officials said the convicts' families were allowed to meet them twice a week. While there are regular visitors for Mukesh, Pawan and Vinay, Akshay's wife has not met him after November though they speak over the phone regularly.

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