KARACHI: Prisons Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar confessed on Thursday that three prisoners were released from Central Jail, Sukkur in 2012 on fake orders. “The release orders were issued with the signature of an additional judge from Jacobabad district,” he said during the Sindh Assembly question and answer session.
“The government conducted an inquiry into the matter and took action against officials who could not verify the documents and released the inmates,” he said. Responding to a question about Central Jail, Karachi, which was supposed to be shifted outside the city, the minister explained that the Sindh government has decided to establish a separate jail for dangerous criminals and terrorists in Jhirk, Thatta district. Another jail will be built in Karachi’s District West to reduce the burden on Central jail.
“We will turn Central jail into a women and juvenile prison,” Lanjar revealed, without mentioning the deadline by which this process will be initiated and completed. “It will take us four to five years to finish the special jail,” he remarked.
Talking about the security at Central Jail, Karachi, where a jailbreak recently occurred, the minister said that a special wall was being constructed within the jail. He said 70% of the work on the wall had been completed.
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“We are building colonies for judges inside Central Jail, Karachi,” he said, adding that important cases registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act are heard inside the jail premises. “Around 12 courts work inside the jail, hearing high-profile cases because we don’t [want to] take the risk of presenting terrorists before a court outside the jail, given the security concerns,” he said, adding that the jail administration checks and monitors each and every thing related to the prisoners, including food. “We are installing the latest security system including cameras and a monitoring system worth Rs70 million inside Central jail,” Lanjar told the MPAs.
When asked about the operation conducted within Central jail, during which some inmates were shifted to other jails in Sindh, he said, “We have shifted around 34 notorious terrorists to Sukkur. These kinds of decisions are made on the recommendation of senior officials of the prison department.”
Speaking about other jails in the province, Lanjar said his department has also been working to install a new security system at the central jail in Hyderabad by setting up closed-circuit television cameras. However, he set aside reports on whether police officers’ mobile phones were working at the jail and said, “We have installed signal jammers in the Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana jails. No one can use their mobile phones inside or within 500 metres’ radius of the jail”.
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IBA land encroachment
The issue of the encroachment of land of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Khairpur was raised by Pakistan Muslim League - Functional MPA Nusrat Seher Abbasi. “Can the minister for revenue give an answer about the encroachments on seven acres of land allotted by the government to set up an IBA campus in Deh Luqman, Khairpur Mir? What action has been taken against the land grabbers?” she asked, moving a call attention notice. She claimed that the land grabbers belong to the Pakistan Peoples Party and have now started construction of a residential scheme on the land.
Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro confessed that some people have occupied the land and said, “The officials concerned in the revenue department had taken up this matter with the police and very soon this land will be cleared of encroachments.” However, he neglected to give a deadline.
“The anti-encroachment team working in the revenue department is very active and has retrieved thousands of acres of land in Karachi and other districts from encroachers. I assure you that this will be redressed,” Khuhro said.
The assembly dismissed the adjournment motion about a fire that at the Sindh Secretariat building a few days ago. As Abbasi moved the motion, the parliamentary minister opposed it and said, “This investigation is under way and we will brief you about its findings.” When the mover insisted on moving her adjournment motion, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza put it in the House, which rejected it with majority votes.
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Despite the opposition parties’ objections, the Sindh government passed a law authorising the chancellor of Ziauddin University to appoint a chief trustee and remove the health secretary, a representative of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and governor’s adviser from the board of governors. The bill was not on the agenda and was presented by Khuhro.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed questioned why the private bill was being presented by a minister. “As per the rules, ministers can’t move private bills. This can be only done by another member in this House,” he said. But no one listened and the bill was passed as a law.
The Sindh Public Private Partnership Bill was also on the agenda but it was deferred because many errors in it were pointed out by opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan. Later, the deputy speaker adjourned the session till today (Friday).
After the session, lawmakers belonging to different parties celebrated Holi by cutting a cake and taking part in a ‘rung’ – throwing coloured powder at each other.