At least 91 of the 384 people who escaped from the Bannu jail on Sunday are back behind bars, with the majority of them having been caught by the police and a few turning themselves in, said government officials in the district.
A jail official from Bannu told The Express Tribune that 21 of those who were back behind bars were serving sentences for serious crimes, while the rest had either been arrested under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) or for minor crimes. None of the militants who escaped, however, have been caught yet.
Among those back in jail are three prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment.
All three turned themselves in. One of them, a man named Najeebullah, explained his decision. “My family is negotiating a deal with my opponents. Once both families reach an agreement, I will be released so I did not want to break out of jail and become a fugitive.”
Under the Qisas and Diyat Act of 1997, even people who have been sentenced for felonies such as murder can be released if the family of the victim agrees to forgive the perpetrator in exchange for monetary compensation.
It appears that the militants who broke the locks of the Bannu jail to free their imprisoned comrades used many of the other prisoners as cover for their own escape route.
“The militants broke the locks and ordered all of us to follow them out,” said Zeeshan, another returnee who has been in jail for six years. “They made us travel a long distance with them walking about four hours, using us as cover, after which they said we were free to go to our own homes.”
Another prisoner now back behind bars was Hazrat Bibi, who was sentenced to jail in a narcotics case. The prison break occurred just 12 days before her sentence term ends.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.