Despite promises of increased security after the brazen Bannu jailbreak, shady dealings continue to take place in clandestine ways in jails across Punjab.
A secret survey carried out by an intelligence agency has revealed that terrorists continue to use mobile phones to maintain contact with the outside world – especially with banned outfits like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – in a bid to garner financial support and plan more such attacks. The discovery surfaces despite increased security efforts by authorities after reports of further attacks on more prisons particularly Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, Central Jail Faisalabad and Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore.
The investigation also revealed that various scanning devices in prisons across Punjab were out of order and walk-in gates unmanned, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to extracts from the intelligence report, Qari Waqas – an affiliate of TTP’s Tariq Afridi group, detained in Camp Jail, Ferozpur Road Lahore – has contacts with activists of the TTP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P). The communication link was established primarily to arrange finances for prisoners.
In another intercepted telephonic conversation, communication links between a prisoner of the Adiala Jail and a terrorist of the TTP were unearthed.
While the prisoner enquired if any of their accomplices were able to escape during the Bannu jailbreak, his TTP counterpart said that none of their accomplices were among the escapees and added that most of the escaped prisoners belonged to the Mehsud clan.
The TTP terrorist further disclosed that their next target will be Adiala Jail because most of their accomplices were imprisoned there, an intelligence agency operator who intercepted the call revealed.
Another report revealed that terrorists are also planning attacks on Central Jail Faisalabad and Central Jail Kot Lakhpat, Lahore.
In light of the secret survey report, seven jails of Punjab have been declared “most sensitive” and Punjab’s home department has demanded assistance from Rangers in each of the seven jails.
These jails have been declared most sensitive because they house nearly 250 terrorists. As many as 48 terrorists are presently imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore, 90 terrorists in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, 17 terrorists in Faisalabad Jail, 16 in Dera Ghazi Khan Jail, 20 in Bahawalpur Jail, 49 in Multan Jail while nine are lodged in the Mianwali Jail.
The report also revealed that the arms and ammunition in possession of the prison guards were not up-to-date and did not meet the basic requirements. There was also a significant lack of proper arrangements by the management to ensure mobile patrolling around the jail premises.
According to the report, mobile phone facilities were not only enjoyed by ordinary prisoners but were also used by high-profile terrorists who carry out jailbreak planning with their accomplices and parent banned outfits through these devices.
The report added that none of the respective district police officers have prepared any contingency plans in this regard.
In a bid to beef up security, joint teams have been constituted and representatives of Punjab’s home department will lead these teams in association with DSPs.
These joint teams will point out loopholes and security lapses in prisons and will present their recommendations to the provincial home department.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.