Awaiting capital punishment: Eid in a death cell

Four prisoners on death row will offer Eid prayers while confined in their cells.

Our Correspondent August 09, 2013
Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts recently issued black warrants for execution of four condemned prisoners. PHOTO: FILE


Secretly seeking forgiveness in the Ishra-e-Maghfirat of the holy month of Ramazan might lead to a last-minute miracle for the 376 condemned prisoners kept in prisons across the province. But, four of those condemned prisoners, whose hanging is due in the fourth week of this month, will spend their last Eid in ‘death cells’.

Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts recently issued black warrants for execution of four condemned prisoners, including Attaullah alias Qasim, Mohammad Azam alias Sharif, Behram Khan and Shafquat Hussain.

“Those prisoners, whose hanging is finally scheduled to take place following issuance of black warrants by the court, cannot be allowed to mix with other inmates anymore,” Karachi central prison’s superintendent said.

After a lull of almost five years, Karachi’s central prison is about to witness resumption of hangings with execution of Behram Khan and Shafquat Hussain scheduled to take place on August 21 and 22, respectively,” a prison official told The Express Tribune.

President Asif Ali Zardari had stayed hangings countrywide since he took office in September 2008. As the moratorium expired on June 30, prison authorities approached the concerned courts for issuance of black warrants to execute those condemned prisoners, whose mercy appeals had been dismissed by the presidency.

“Special food treats will be arranged for those convicts on the death row, but they will not be allowed to mix with others. Both condemned prisoners (Behram and Shafquat) would offer Eidul Fitr prayers in their death cells, and won’t be permitted to attend prayer congregation that would be held inside the prison,” said central prison’s superintendent Qazi Nazir. “This is because of security concerns to make sure they don’t misuse the opportunity to escape from the jail,” he explained.

There are more than 15,000 prisoners kept in 25 prisons across the province, including 2403 convicts. Among them are 376 prisoners on the death row, including a female convict.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.

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