Mayhem took over Sukkur Central Jail I on Tuesday when six jail officials were attacked and six others were held hostage by enraged prisoners. Seven policemen and three prisoners were injured.
“At 9:15 am, we entered the main prison building to let prisoners out but we were attacked by prisoners holding rocks and iron rods,” said Naveed Iqbal Rajpar, one of the injured policemen. Reportedly, after taking six hostages, the prisoners climbed up to the jail’s roof. When jail officials came forward to rescue their colleagues, the inmates strongly resisted them. The prisoners took the keys to the jail cells from the hostages and released prisoners, thus turning the central jail into a lawlessness zone.
Rajpar claims that the authorities did not foresee the unrest. “On Monday there was nothing to worry about, but on Tuesday morning the prisoners turned violent,” he said. To bring the situation under control, the Frontier Corps personnel deployed outside the jail were summoned, while the police unsuccessfully used aerial firing and tear gas shelling to gain control.
According to sources, more than 10 people were injured, including three prisoners, who are being treated at the jail while the others have been shifted to the city’s civil hospital. According to Rajpar, prisoners Taj Mohammad, Dost Mohammad and Zulfiqar received minor injuries while head warden Hajan Kori, clerk Niaz Channa, policemen Amanullah Bhatti and Jan Mohammad Phull and Frontier Corps personnel Naseer Afsar and Umer Ali were also injured. “The prisoners took head warden Amanullah Khaldi, head clerk Zafar Iqbal, policemen Habibullah Mangnejo, Wazir Ahmed Qureshi and Abdul Rasheed Abro hostage,” he said.
Jail superintendent Qazi Nazir was unable to attend phone calls, as he was reportedly trying to negotiate with the prisoners, and Sukkur DIG Prisons Abdul Majeed Siddiqui claims that he knows nothing about the situation. Negotiations over the release of the hostages were taking place but failed as nothing could be decided upon. The prisoners wanted to be reassured that they would not be sent to different prisons or suffer from a police operation.
Relatives of the prisoners gathered outside the jail and staged a protest, while shouting slogans against the jail authorities. The protesters burnt tyres and blocked the road for half an hour.
According to protesters Khair Mohammad Jatoi, Hafeezullah, Akbar Panhwar and Ali Gohar, the jail staff have an inhuman attitude towards the prisoners. “The officials wanted us to pay them to in order to see our relatives. If we brought in food it was taken away by the jail officials,” they said. “We received a phone call from our friend from inside the jail and were informed that the officials were beating up prisoners and injuring them and were not receiving medical care.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.