Prison strike for third consecutive day

Rana Tanveer April 12, 2010

LAHORE: Prisoners at Central Jail Kot apat continued their hunger strike for the third consecutive day to protest the recent ‘discriminatory’ presidential pardon.

Around 1,500 criminals protested and refused food after their crimes did not fall under the category of ‘pardoned petty crimes’. The protestors include convicts sentenced for murder, dacoity and other major crimes.

A death-row prisoner at Kot Lakhpat Jail on condition of anonymity told the Express Tribune that the hunger strike would continue until the pardon was extended equally to all prisoners regardless of the nature of their crime.

He said that the jail administration had segregated them temporarily from the pardoned criminals but he added the measure would not halt their protest. He demanded equal pardon and treatment adding that no specific group should be favoured. President Asif Ali Zardari announced the pardon orders on Friday.

According to the directive all convicted prisons over 60 years of age and who have served one-third of their jail sentence would be released with immediate effect. Prisoners sentenced for murder, espionage, anti-state activities, terrorism, kidnapping, abduction for ransom and robbery did not fall under the category.

Kot Lakhpat Jail additional superintendent Chaudary Ashraf Kingra said that the strike was merely symbolic because no food items were being returned from the prisoners’ barracks.

“All of them are eating regularly while they claim to be on a hunger strike!” he said. “The prisoners convicted on various narcotics offences have already dissociated themselves from the protestors today”, he claimed. Kingra denied that the prisoners had been segregated following the directive. Lahore District Jail (Camp Jail) Superintendent Gulzar Butt also denied knowledge about the strike being observed by the prisoners.

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