Official’s conspiracy in LeJ militants escape from jail being interrogated

KARACHI: One of the two ‘hardcore militants’ of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi was not supposed to be produced in any court yet he along with the other was taken to and kept at the judicial complex inside the Central Prison on Tuesday before they both managed to escape, an initial investigation into the recent jailbreak showed on Thursday.

Jail officials claimed that they were not aware of the exact day when the two LJ militants had escaped though they found both the under-trial prisoners ‘missing’ on Wednesday, said police investigators.

Shaikh Mohammad Mumtaz, alias Phiron, and Mohammad Ahmed Khan, alias Munna, who belong to the Qasim Rasheed group of the Naeem Bukhari-led LJ, were arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of police back in 2013 for their alleged involvement in more than 60 murders, many of them on sectarian grounds.

The jail staff said they had produced “both the UTPs before the court” in the judicial complex on Tuesday but they ‘escaped’ by breaking the grill of the court afterwards, Gulshan SP Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto told Daily Aftab. The jail officials did not ‘realize’ that the LJ militants had escaped until the next day when they came to take “both the UTPs to the relevant court”.

The Gulshan SP said this was the version of the 12 jail officials who were booked and arrested following the prisoners’ escape.

While the police were investigating the case, an initial probe by a CTD team revealed some startling findings.

Speaking to Daily Aftab, CTD chief Additional IG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, who along with his team visited the Central Prison on Thursday, said the jail staff presented both the UTPs before a ‘non-functional court’ inside the judicial complex. “Only one UTP was supposed to be produced before the court but whose judge was not available. There was no hearing of any case against the other UTP. Despite this fact, he was taken there,” said the CTD chief.

He hinted at the possibility of inside help in their escape and said the grill could not be cut in one day. Besides, it is yet to be ascertained if the prisoners escaped by breaking the grill.

There was ‘gross negligence’ of the jail staff behind the escape of the militants though their possible connivance was still being probed, said the CTD Sindh chief.

Dr Abbasi told Daily Aftab that one militant had shaved off his beard before fleeing. There were razors and saw blades available with the prisoners, the investigation found.

The senior officer said some other militants languishing in the jail were being interrogated to get a clue if anyone had provided help to them.