Taking notice of the Bannu jailbreak and the subsequent escape of a large number of prisoners, the Peshawar High Court chief justice on Monday ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Justice Dost Mohammed Khan constituted a two-member committee and asked it to submit its findings in three days.
The committee comprises Additional Registrar of PHC’s Bannu bench Ashfaq Taj and District and Sessions Judge Adil Khan. The committee members visited the prison on Monday and interviewed the officials who were on duty on the day of the jailbreak.
Of the 384 prisoners who had escaped from the jail, sources at the prison said, so far 103 prisoners have returned voluntarily and the Bannu and Karak police have arrested more than two dozen runaways during search operations. The provincial home department confirmed the return of 103 prisoners.
According to sources, a prisoner, Ayub Khan, 70, who was on death row and had escaped with other prisoners, was found dead at Peng in Frontier Region Bannu on Monday. The sources said he died from hunger and thirst.
On Monday a 25-year-old prisoner, Zahir Shah, who also had returned voluntarily, had said that another two runaway prisoners had died for lack of food and water in the mountains.
A joint meeting of the police, other law-enforcing agencies and intelligence agencies were held at the headquarters of the provincial home department in Peshawar on Monday where a joint plan of action was finalised to arrest the runaway prisoners.
Meanwhile, top Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur has asked North Waziristan’s residents to rise up against all forces trying to use their soil in violation of an agreement they have ‘signed with Pakistan’.
The request, communicated through a pamphlet distributed on Tuesday, comes a day after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed that they had taken prisoners, who they had released in their brazen attack on Bannu jail, to Mir Ali in North Waziristan.
“Do not let them operate [from North Waziristan]” the pamphlet read. “Resistance will be put up if security forces try moving into the agency,” the pamphlet said, also stressing that “those hailing from South [Waziristan] should respect their own land and property.”
The pamphlet uses the word “Southerners” in a clear reference to the TTP, which comprises mostly of Mehsud tribesmen from South Waziristan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.