Inmates protest over ban on family meetings

Several prisoners at Rahim Yar Khan district jail stage a protest against police officials.

Express February 18, 2011

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Several prisoners at Rahim Yar Khan district jail on Thursday staged a protest against police officials and refused to go to the district courts for the hearings of their cases.

They complained that the police officials were not letting them meet their relatives. They accused that during previous hearing, the police did not allowed them to meet their relatives despite taking bribes.

The protest ended after two hours on the jail superintendent and deputy superintendent of police’s assurance that they would request the district police officer to look into the matter.

Some protestors who belonged to Liaqatpur told The Express Tribune that police officials also misbehaved with their family members. They accused the police of taking bribes to let them meet their relatives.

“Last time, they took the money and still did not let us meet anyone,” one protestor said. He said that the police supplied alcohol to prisoners inside judicial lockups. He said that the prisoners had been warned that if they complained the police officials would kill them in fake encounters.

Talking to The Tribune, a police official rejected the allegations. He said the police did not allow the prisoners to meet their relatives at judicial lockups because of a recent ban imposed on such meetings by DPO Sohail Tajik.

The ban, he said, was imposed a couple of months after some people provided alcohol, mixed in soft drinks, to the inmates during a meeting. He said the inmates were drunk during the hearing. He said the judge had taken strict notice of the incident, following which the DPO had imposed the ban.

The police official alleged that the prisoners got alcohol and drugs at the district jail, not at the judicial lockups. He said lower-ranking officials in the jail administration were charging up to Rs500 per week to allow the prisoners to use mobile phones and drugs.

The jail superintendent denied that inmates were getting the mobile phones, drugs or any other facility at the jail. He said the protest was against the ban imposed on meetings by the district police officer and that the jail administration had no role in the issue.

Later, he discussed the issue with DPO Sohail Tajik.

Talking to the media, DPO Tajik said the prisoners’ allegations were baseless. Responding to the the prisoners’ complaint that they were not being allowed to meet their relatives, he said they could not get all facilities available to them in jails at judicial lockups. He said the police would soon launch a search operation at the jail.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2011.


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