Security lapse: Prisoner kills another in sessions court lockup

Assailant shot dead by police after an hour-long exchange of fire.


Rana Yasif June 30, 2012

LAHORE:


An under-trial prisoner, on Saturday, shot another in the judicial lockup. He was later killed in a shootout with the police.


The assailant was identified as Azam – a man accused of attempted murder and dealing in drugs – and the man he shot dead as Shafqat Nazir, a murder accused.

According to the police, one of the bullets grazed the left arm of another prisoner – identified as Shehzad Yousaf. It was unclear whether the bullet was fired by Azam or the police.

Police have been unable to determine how Azam got hold of the pistol. A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it was likely that Azam was provided the gun at the sessions court.

Islampura police later arrested seven police officials, identified as ASI Manzoor and Constables Muhammad Sharif, Muhammad Yaseen, Fayyaz, Yasir, Amjad and Waseem.

At around 12:50pm, some police officials were trying to break up a scuffle between a lawyer and their colleagues, when they heard the first shot from the direction of the judicial lockup. People ran and took shelter – some behind the prisoners vans’ parked on the premises and others behind a wall. The single shot was followed by several shots in quick succession.

Police officials and Elite Force personnel took positions on the roof of the judicial lockup and behind the prisoners’ vans. The gunman had taken cover in one of the toilets in Barrack No3. The exchange of fire continued for about an hour. When the police announced the end of the operation, Azam was found lying near the gate of the barrack. He was still breathing. However, he was provided no medical assistance and by the time the rest of the prisoners in the barrack were evacuated, he had breathed his last. One of the witnesses said that after he was hit in the shoulder Azam had wanted to surrender.

According to the police, Azam and Nazir had been friends at the Kot Lakhpat Jail before they quarrelled and Azam was shifted to Sahiwal Jail. On Saturday, he was brought to stand trial.

Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Manzoor, who accompanied the prisoners from Sahiwal, said when the prisoners were brought to the sessions court lockup, said Manzoor, its in charge Zahoor Shaheen refused to hold Azam in one of the barracks.

Shortly afterwards, Azam told ASI Manzoor that he needed to use the toilet. And was taken to Barrack No3.  Once inside he pulled a pistol, aimed it at Shafqat and said, “Who is going save him from me now?” and fired.

A witness said, a bullet got stuck and Azam reloaded his pistol and shot Shafqat three more times, hitting him in the stomach and the chest.

Azam then fired some shots in the air. Around 30 prisoners being held in the barrack took shelter in the washroom stalls on one side of the barrack. Azam hid in the washroom on the other side of the barrack.

It took about 20 minutes for the police to get clearance to shoot at Azam.

After the operation ended, Rescue 1122 officials took the bodies for autopsy.

District and Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmed, Senior Civil Judge Chaudhry Farrukh Hussain, SSP (Operations) Babar Bakht Qureshi, SP (Elite) Husnain Ahmed, Islampura DSP Shamsul Hassan Durrani, DSP (Judicial) Muhammad Iftikhar were among the officials who visited the sessions court after the incident.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012. 

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