As security is tightened at prisons after the Bannu jail break, the superintendent of Sukkur Central Jail is worried about the illegal truck stand and hotels built beside the jail’s premises.
Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro had declared the central jails, in Sukkur, Karachi, Malir and Hyderabad to be sensitive and had given orders to enhance their security.
According to Qazi Nazir Ahmed, three or four prisoners have been shot just after their release from the jail. The attackers sat and waited for the men to come out at these hotels. Talking about the truck stand, he said that a petition had been submitted to the high court against it.
In the 1980s, Sukkur Central Jail was considered to be the home of seasoned criminals from all over Sindh. Convicts from Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Naushehro Feroze districts were brought and kept here.
The last break-in occurred in 1986. Dozens of criminals broke in the jail and escaped with 34 of the most dangerous convicts. At that time, there used to be more than 4,000 prisoners and most of them serial criminals.
However, the capacity of the jail had now reduced to 1,500 inmates from 4,000, said superintendent Ahmed. Currently the jail has 892 inmates.
The security staff consists of 350 people, besides the two battalions of Frontier Constabulary. The constabulary men are deployed on top of the watchtowers outside the boundary wall.
Ahmed said that recently the government had provided the staff with modern weapons under the jail improvement reforms of the Sindh government. The weapons include, sub machine guns, light machine guns, tear gas guns and rubber bullets. An electronic walk-through gate was also installed at the main entrance.
All of the visitors have to pass through a metal detector and undergo a body search before they come in.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.