Pune With four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case set to face the gallows on January 22, this won't be the first time that four convicts on death row will be hanged in a day.
In 1983, four convicts in the sensational "Joshi- Abhyankar" killings in Pune were executed together at the Yerwada Central Jail here.
Rajendra Jakkal, Dilip Sutar, Shantaram Kanhoji Jagtap and Munawar Harun Shah were hanged on October 25, 1983. The Joshi-Abhyankar serial killings were 10 murders committed by them between January 1976 and March 1977. Suhas Chandak, an accused in the case, had turned approver.
The murderers were commercial art students at the Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya on Pune's Tilak Road. They were notorious for drinking and robbing two wheelers.
The first murder took place on January 16, 1976. The victim, Prasad Hedge, was a classmate of the murderers. His father ran a small restaurant behind their college. The killers decided to kidnap him for ransom. Picking him up on false pretense, they took him to
Jakkals tin shed on Karve road and made him write a note to his father explaining that he had decided to leave home. They later strangled him and dumped his body in an iron barrel, which they threw in the lake at Peshwe Park. They sent the note to his father the next day.
Between October 31, 1976 and March 23, 1977 they killed nine more people. They used to break into homes, threaten residents and make them direct the group towards the valuables. They would then murder the family members by stuffing cotton in their mouths and then strangling them with a nylon rope.
The gruesome killings had sent shock waves across Maharashtra. Sharad Avasthi, who retired as assistant commissioner of police, was present in the court when the death sentence was pronounced.
"I remember that when the accused were sentenced to death, there was a large crowd in the court premises. The four convicts, while being taken out of the court complex after the sentenced was pronounced, were actually waving at the crowd as if they were heroes," he recalled.
Avasthi, who was then a police inspector, said special teams were formed to nab the killers. "Police officers who had worked in Pune earlier were summoned to investigate the case," he said.
Pune-based social activist Balasaheb Runwal, who was at that time in his teens, said the killings created so much fear among people that they had stopped venturing out of their houses after 6 pm.
"I remember people used to be in a state of shock, but reports related to the killings appearing in newspapers and of the court trials were widely read," he said.