KARACHI: Just days after the provincial government cut down the central jail’s annual budget by 16 per cent, the prison facility witnessed a major smuggling bid foiled, thanks to a working metal detector.
Concealed inside seven concrete bricks, five mobile phones, four chargers, 18 batteries and 24 packets of drugs were seized as they were being taken inside the Karachi Central Prison on Thursday. The bricks were part of a larger batch of around 100 blocks meant for the renovation of washrooms.
The police have arrested the supplier of the construction material and the driver of the vehicle, which brought the blocks. A case has been registered against both the men.
“It is a normal procedure to check everything that goes inside the jail,” said DIG Prisons Nusrat Mangan. “We checked the bricks with a metal detector and found them suspicious. The seized items were found once the blocks were cracked open.”
Jail Deputy Superintendent Raja Mumtaz said that the washrooms were not being constructed by the prison administration. “A man named Salman had offered to renovate the shabby washrooms inside the jail facility.”
It is usual for philanthropists to fund different activities inside the prison. Different non-governmental organisations have been involved in vocational training of prisoners. The officials also don’t mind people financing construction of schools and medical facilities at the jail. But this particular case had made the authorities nervous, according to the prison officials.
“The washrooms were being constructed by someone who had links with jailed political activists,” said a police official requesting anonymity. “It is obvious that the party members wanted to get in touch with someone other than their family members.”
The prison has a public phone for inmates who want to talk to family members.
Soon after the incident, the jail police carried out a check in prison cells and recovered 13 more mobile phones.
“Well-connected” prisoners have made numerous attempts in the past to get their hands on the communication devices, and the police acknowledge that many of them may have succeeded too.
The DIG Prisons admitted that there have been breaches. “[The central jail] is such a huge facility and we haven’t been able to stop them 100 per cent. Sometimes prisoners receive sealed packs of milk and biscuits, but inside we find mobile phones.”
The incident has prompted prison authorities to further emphasise the need to install cell phone jammers within the premises. “We are expecting the government to give us Rs6 million to procure jammers,” Mangan said.
The concerns of cellular service providers have been addressed and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has been informed about it. “The jammers will only be effective inside the prison premises,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.
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