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   I have not seen an execution... (January 23, 1986)

I have not seen an execution but I have seen an executed body on a hangman's pole. Two bodies on two separate poles, in fact:

It was in North East Turkey, in a small town. I arrived there one cold, blustery evening and found cold, blustery evening and found the two bodies hung. They had been hanged a couple of days back and had been left there for the public to see. The cold had evidently preserved the bodies to some extent.

It was not the most pleasant of sights and in a strange and unfamiliar countryit was quite frightening. There was a wind blowing and the bodies swayed in their nooses, the poles creaked. Stray dogs below were jumping, trying to get at their legs, mercifully not succeeding. Though, of course, once you are dead it does not matter if dogs chew on your bones.

Later, at the local tea-shop, I learnt that the two were criminals and murderers, a trial had been held and the court had passed the verdict of death and hanging in public. In Turkey, as in most Islamic countries, justice can be tough.

On another occasion, I was spending a night outside Istanbul at a place. Near a military camp where the deposed and arrested prime minister, Adnan Menderes, had been detained. In the night, a convoy of military vehicles flashed past, carrying the former prime minister to his death.

The sentence was carried out a month or two later. I saw photographs of the executed Menderes, hanging from a rope, the neck twisted. He was wearing some sort of a white nightgown and pinned on it was large scroll of paper with all the crimes he had committed written on it.

That was my closest brush with a man about to be executed. And I do not want people to get the impression that Turkey is a cruel country. It is also a mong the friendliest and most hospitable countries in the world.

Nearer home there was the execution of Bhutto. Till the last minute, I did not expect General Zia would hang him. You do not hang politicians no matter how much they may deserve, not in this part of the world anyway, not on the Indian sub-continent.

There are several versions of the execution. One says that he was heavily drugged and did not know what was happening. Another that he strode to the gallows, the noose was slipped round his neck. A third that he cried and pleaded and struggled with his executioners.

Whatever be the manner of death, there is blood on General Zia's hands and it will never be totally washed away.

 
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