Hanging people for a living; Rs500 a head

ISLAMABAD: His job is to kill people—Rs500 a head—and he gets paid by the government.

After the moratorium on death penalty was lifted in December last year, Sabir Masih has become a busy man. One of the only two hangmen in Punjab—he hops from city to city performing his job.

For Masih hanging people to death is a family profession. His grandfather was a hangmen when the British ruled Pakistan. “In those Dada would get paid only Rs20.”

There are 36 jails in Punjab with more than 5000 death row convicts. For executions, the province has only two hangmen to carry out executions throughout the province.

Masih sometimes travels miles to carry out his work. “Some jail officers don’t even pay the fee so it is pointless to expect they will cover your travel expenses as well. Sometimes you have to do the government’s work by using your money from your own pockets,” he said.

After the terrorist attack on Army Public School Peshawar the ban on the death sentence executions was lifted. Since then 200 convicted criminals have been hanged.

With 170 executions Punjab stands top with maximum number of executions most number of executions is held in Punjab.

While talking to BBC, he said that he was called by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s police to train their local people. According to Sabir, he travels mile to carry out his official duties for which he is given only 500 on one execution and if there are more than one execution lined up then they will talk about the fee accordingly.

Masih said that he had hanged high profile convicts including those involved in the GHQ attack and the attack on Former Army chief Pervez Musharraf.

He remembers when convicts charged for these crimes including Dr. Usman were to be hanged they didn’t show a flicker of shame on their faces. Instead they walked by themselves to the wooden stand.

Masih manages to make Rs15000 every month, and till now no terrorist group has threatened him, but he is scared nevertheless. Hanging high profile criminals in this country is risky business.

The story has been translated from BBC Urdu.