Inmates take over prison

Inmates go on strike after four prisoners Manzoor, Kalo, Haji and Khalil allegedly tortured by the jail administration

Tariq Ismaeel Qureshi October 03, 2010

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Inmates of the Dera Ghazi Khan central jail went on strike against the jail administration after four prisoners Manzoor, Kalo, Haji and Khalil were allegedly tortured by the jail administration.

Nearly 170 central jail inmates are presently perched on the rooftops of the jail with bricks and stones and police officials have vacated the premises. The inmates have allegedly detained two jail officials.

Until the filing of this report, the situation inside the jail remained extremely tense as the inmates allegedly beat the jail officials in their custody.

Dera Ghazi Khan Jail Road has been closed for all traffic.

A peon at the jail, who wished to remain anonymous, said that police officials had recently discovered mobile phones in the possession of the four prisoners. The police allegedly tortured the men and shaved their heads and moustaches. The following day the inmates refused to return to their barracks after their 5 o’clock walk in protest.

After the inmates refused to go into barracks, the jail administration resorted to baton charge and also used tear gas and aerial firing. “We decided that we could not stand by and let the torture of other inmates continue,” said an inmate, Safdar, adding that former jail superintendent Sheikh Nadeem was privy to the treatment meted out to the inmates by policemen.

“We will not relinquish our posts and we will continue the strike until Nadeem personally apologises to all the inmates in the jail,” Safdar said.

The prisoners refused to back down after district coordination officer (DCO) Iftikhar Ali Sahu personally spoke to them. The DCO assured the prisoners that their demands would be taken under consideration.

DCO Iftikhar Ali Sahu insisted that no incident of torture had taken place and that the revolt was entirely unanticipated. Police officials in the area are on red alert and are prepared to use tear gas to get back into the jail the moment the situation eases.  “The prisoners have refused to negotiate or compromise. They have categorically said they will settle for nothing less than personal apologies,” the DCO said, adding that the prisoners had threatened to throw stones at him if he raised the subject again.

The current jail superintendent Mohammad Buksh tried to negotiate with the prisoners but they pelted stones at him. They insisted that they would not consider any proposal until Nadeem personally apologised to every prisoner in the jail. Mohammad Buksh said that negotiations with the prisoners had failed and that they were now in charge of the jail having turned out police officials by force.

Jail administration was contacted for comment but the jail superintendent has gone to Lahore and the deputy superintendent refused to comment on the situation.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2010.


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