Prison Break: Inquiry teams recommends removal of IG prisons

KARACHI: Inquiry team comprising senior police officials over Karachi Central Jail break incident in which two high profile terrorists belonging to banned outfits successfully escaped has recommended the removal of senior police officers including IG prisons Sindh’

“Flagrant violation of rules and regulations, control of administration work by UTPs [undertrial prisoners] and other lacunas pointed out in inquiry speak volumes about inefficiency, lack of supervision and loose administration of Inspector General Prison in addition to other officers pointed out in the inquiry,” said the inquiry report. “It is, therefore, suggested that IGP Prison should be changed immediately.”

The inquiry was conducted by Additional IG Crimes Branch Dr Aftab Ahmed Pathan into the escape of two LJ militants — Shaikh Mumtaz alias Firaun and Ahmed Khan alias Munna. They were arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department in 2013 for their alleged involvement in killing 60 people, including members of Shia community and law enforcement agencies.

The inquiry body also warned that the incident failed to serve as a wake-up call for the authorities as the “illegal practice” continues inside the jail premises unabated, allowing UTPs to meet “outsiders freely”.

The Sindh home department had appointed Mr Pathan to conduct an inquiry into the jailbreak and ascertain the role of investigation officer DSP Zahid Hussain who was accused of making a weak case against jail officials and personnel.

The inquiry, however, exonerated the IO from charges of any negligence and Mr Pathan observed that the IO fully exposed the criminal act of over a dozen jail officials.

Pointing out “security lapses” at all levels from keeping the UTPs in their barracks and their production before the antiterrorism courts, the report stated that the jail authorities “remained unaware of the escape of both the terrorists for about 18 hours”.

It added that they came to know about their escape when the UTPs were called by the ATC on June 14. “This situation shows that the senior jail officers were in nexus with the lower staff especially junior clerk Yasir, head clerk Rafiq Channa and ASJ Kamal Shah in the escape of both terrorists.”

The Crimes Branch chief, who paid a visit to the Karachi Central Prison on Sept 29, stated in his report that he observed that “outsiders” used to meet the escapees freely on the ATC premises, which was in violation of Section 692 of Jail Manual.

He said that the illegal practice of meeting UTPs by outsiders in the ATC still continued.

Highlighting the role of individual jail officials with “exhausting” observations, Mr Pathan said that they were responsible for keeping the UTPs of barracks No. 25 and 26 in safe custody but they “failed to do their job and as a result both the high-profile terrorists escaped”.

During his visit to the newly constructed ATC inside the prison, he also “found the movement of UTPs without handcuffs which was against Section 662 of the Jail Manual as the movement of high-profile terrorists without handcuffs was very dangerous and can result in a similar incident of jailbreak in future”.

Mr Pathan also suggested several corrective measures in jails to prevent occurrence of similar incidents in future.

He stated that against the original strength of 2,400 prisoners, the Karachi Central Prison housed about 6,000 prisoners.

He recommended that in order to overcome the issue of overcrowding, a new prison should be constructed.

The inquiry proposed that UTPs should not be made in charge of “head counting” and production of prisoners in court. They should be treated in accordance with the Jail Manual and the administration work should not be given to them.

Besides, the prison department should immediately recruit fresh constables and other employees so that they can manage administration properly. Similar recruitment should be done in other prisons of the province if required.

The inquiry report said that as a policy matter a PSP officer (grade-20) should be posted as IG Prisons and DIG Prisons.

Likewise, PSP officers should be appointed as jail superintendent of central prisons in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur.