40% cameras at Karachi jail were nonfunctional when LeJ militants escaped, says CTD official

Published: July 8, 2017
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Main gate of Karachi Central Jail. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD SAQIB/EXPRESS

Main gate of Karachi Central Jail. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD SAQIB/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Investigators probing the recent jailbreak at Central Jail, Karachi say an improper monitoring system was one of the major reasons behind the jailbreak.

Investigations have revealed that 40% of the security cameras installed on the premises of the Central Jail, Karachi were nonfunctional at the time when two hardcore militants escaped from the jail.

Two members, Shaikh Muhammad Imtiaz alias Firoun and Ahmed Khan alias Munna, of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a banned militant group, escaped from the jail in a dramatic fashion on June 13, leaving the authorities, who had made claims of fool proof security at the prisons, dumbfounded.

Escaped LeJ militants walked out of central jail

“Out of the 25 closed-circuit television cameras installed at the central jail, 11 were out of order,” said a senior official of the Counter-Terrorism Department who was privy to the investigation.

“Besides this, the cameras are of low quality and an inadequate and outdated system is in place for their maintenance,” he said.

The CTD official commented that the under-trial prisoners (UTP) were apparently aware of this security loophole and took advantage of it. “They seemed to be well-versed with the security arrangements at the jail. They also took advantage of their influence over the jail guards,” he said.

Refuting the CTD official’s claims, the jail authorities said that there were only 19 cameras installed inside the jail premises and of these, only three were out of order. “We have ample security arrangements at the jail. The cameras are properly monitored by dedicated staffers,” Prisons Inspector-General Nusrat Mangan responded.

Two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists break out of Karachi jail

According to the CTD official, had there been a proper surveillance system, the escape plan could have been thwarted. “The security cameras should have been used to monitor the activities of the prisoners. Keeping an eye on their movement would have given the jail guards an edge over the escapees.”

The manner in which the inmates escaped suggested they must have been planning this for a considerable period of time and the security lapses finally enabled them to succeed in their plan. “The fact is that one of the escaped UTPs didn’t even have a date with the court. He went to the courts unchecked,” said the official.

The two UTPs are said to have escaped during daytime from the courts building, which is located on the outer security quadrant of the jail. They seemed to have gotten enough time before they stepped out of the jail gate. They shaved their beards in a washroom at the court building.

13 LeJ militants in custody ‘threaten’ CTD officials in Karachi

The escape was formally reported to the authorities after more than 24 hours, which ultimately helped the UTPs to get out of the reach of the authorities. “This was the biggest blunder. We were informed about the incident after the passage of almost 24 hours,” he said. “It gave an advantage to the terrorists to move easily to their safe house.”

Meanwhile, Mangan said that the jail officials themselves came know about the incident the next day during the daily headcount. “This is the reason that they have been implicated in the case as accused. Jail officials were not only suspended, but 12 were also arrested,” he explained.

The CTD official said that the prison authorities have to review and strengthen their security plan to avert such incidents in future. “We are looking closely into possible involvement of officials and guards in the UTPs escape plan. If an involvement is established, the jail officials and guards will suffer a lot,” he said.

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