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This picture shows the damaged gate of centre jail caused by a Taliban attack. — File photo
This picture shows the damaged gate of centre jail caused by a Taliban attack. — File photo

DERA ISMAIL KHAN/PESHAWAR: Provincial revenue minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur on Wednesday declared the Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak incident an act of cowardice on part of local police and said tough action would be taken against those responsible for the debacle.

“Police officers and constables had hidden in sewer lines when militants attacked the Dera Ismail Khan central prison. Our head hangs in shame,” Ali Amin Gandapur told a news conference.

The minister, who also belongs to Dera Ismail Khan, said police officers and constable with the exception of a few had disappeared at the time of the jail attack and there was no one to defend the premises.

He said militants succeeded in carrying out their task without resistance for more than 45 minutes due to cowardice on part of police.

Mr Gandapur said the main gate of the prison had been built by the British and it was not something that could have been blown up.

“But the irony is that our own officials opened the gate to militants to welcome them. The entire force had disappeared instead of confronting militants,” he said.

The minister said instead of laying down their lives to protect the honour and property of the people, senior police officers hid themselves in sewer lines.

“These officers act like tigers confronting ordinary citizens but chicken out when they see militants,” he said.

Mr Gandapur said the nation would have been proud of its police had they laid down their lives by defending the prison but instead, they (police) simply disappeared when one of the armoured personnel carriers was blown up by militants.

He said the government did not have a magic wand to correct the mess caused by former rulers but it was committed to correcting the situation and restoring law and order in the province.

The minister said those found guilty of dereliction of duty and negligence over the jailbreak would be dealt with strictly.

He said he had spoken to the relevant authorities, so curfew would be lifted from Dera Ismail Khan city on Thursday.

Mr Gandapur said those killed in the attack would be properly compensated.

He criticised Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman for taking potshots at the PTI government. “They should look into their own conscience,” he said. The minister said recruitments in police in the past were done in disregard of merit and that was one of the reasons for the current state of affairs in police.

JAILBREAK CASE REGISTERED: The Dera Ismail Khan police on Wednesday registered the case of the Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak against unidentified attackers under anti-terrorism act and different sections of other laws.

The case was registered at the cantonment police station.

Jail superintendent Ghulam Rabbani registered the case against 200 unidentified attackers at the cantonment police station under sections 302, 324, 353, 365, 427, 435, 224A, 225A, 120B-3/4EXP-7ATA-186/148-149PPC.

The report said terrorists attacked the prison at midnight, broke locks of cells by firing gunshots, killed prisoners and policemen, took away wanted Taliban militants, women prisoners, and woman constable Gulab Bibi.

It said the room of the deputy jail superintendent was set on fire, the record destroyed and jail vehicles torched. Also in the day, curfew timing was relaxed.

Dera Ismail Khan commissioner Irfanullah on Wednesday said curfew had been relaxed from 10:00am to 12noon and for an hour from 4:00pm to 5:00pm in the city to facilitate the people to buy food items for Iftar and Sehri.

Also in the day, funeral prayers for the dead prisoners were offered in Mora and for slain policemen at Police Lines.

Around 48 prisoners, including four women, handed themselves over to police voluntarily. Woman constable Gulab Bibi, who went missing after militant attack, also returned.

POLICE OFFICERS SUSPENDED: Provincial inspector general of police, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ihsan Ghani on Wednesday made Dera Ismail Khan district police officer Sohail Khalid as officer on special duty and took up the matter of his suspension with the Establishment Division for dereliction of duty and lack of supervision over the district’s central jail breakup.

In another notification, the police chief suspended DSP City Dera Ismail Khan Salahuddin Kundi and three SHOs i.e. SHO City Haroon Khan, SHO Cantonment Mohammad Nawaz and SHO Dera Town Saifur Rehman over negligence and failure to fulfil duty.

A statement issued by the CPO office here said the IGP during his visit to the DIK Central Jail the other day had suspended SP Elite Force, DSP Elite Force and 25 constables of the Elite Force for not responding to the attack.

Until now, the police officers and personnel suspended in the case include two SPs, three DSPs, three inspectors and 25 constables.