72 prisoners transferred from Karachi jail

At 6,000, the central prison is housing inmates at twice its capacity


Faraz Khan September 20, 2017
Two incarcerated under-trial prisoners broke out of Central Jail, Karachi on June 13. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD SAQIB/EXPRESS

KARACHI: As many as 72 prisoners, incarcerated at the Central Jail, Karachi, were shifted on Tuesday to other jails in the country in a move to control overcrowding in the jail.

Among the 72 transferred prisoners, the majority were shifted to Sukkur and Larkana, while two were moved to Punjab. There were some reports that the decision to transfer the prisoners was taken by the Sindh apex committee following the escape of two under-trial prisoners, Sheikh Muhammad alias Firon and Ahmed Khan alias Manako in June this year. However, the concerned authorities denied such reports.

"The prisoners shifted to other jails were ordinary prisoners. No terrorist was shifted and only ordinary prisoners were transferred due to overcrowding," claimed Sind Prisons Inspector-General Nusrat Mangan while talking to The Express Tribune.

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The central prison in Karachi is housing around 6,000 inmates - twice more than its capacity. Moreoever, there are 380 staffers, including officials and guards, who are also temporarily supported by three platoons of the Frontier Constabulary, each having around 40 to 45 personnel, as well as 50 Rangers personnel. As per these estimates, the inmates to guard ratio is around 10:1.

Some news channels misquoted the news, said the jail authorities. "We transferred them in a bid to control the overcrowding," explained Prisons Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar while talking to The Express Tribune. "These prisoners have been acquitted or bailed out in Karachi's courts and now their cases are on trial in other jails so we shifted them to areas near the respective courts."

Contradicting the Prisons IG's claim, Lanjar said nearly a dozen suspected terrorists were also among the 72 transferred prisoners because their cases were being heard in the courts in other cities. The two prisoners who were shifted to Punjab are being tried in Punjab's courts, he said.

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Sources in the jail said that the transfer of prisoners will continue in phases. In the second phase, 68 prisoners are likely to be transferred elsewhere for their trial in military courts.

The provincial apex committee in its 20th meeting in August had decided to shift 270 prisoners from Karachi's central prison to different jails of the province. At least 19 of them are said to be the most notorious prisoners. Talking about the cases of the hardcore terrorists, Lanjar said that he has given a 15-day deadline to the concerned officials, including the law secretary to prepare a report about the high profile terrorists. "The decision about their transfer will be taken after it is decided whose cases will be sent to military courts," he explained.

There are nearly 250 to 300 hardcore terrorists incarcerated at the central prison belonging to various militant outfits including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, alQaeda, alQaeda in the Indian Subcontinent as well as Da'ish. These include Omar Shaikh, who was sentenced to death for killing American journalist Daniel Pearl, LeJ co-founder Akram Lahori and the militants who attempted to assassinate former president and army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

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