GILGIT: Initial investigations into the jailbreak in Gilgit have revealed that the inmates had carried out the daring act with help from the prison’s security staff.
Danyor Station House Officer Ghulaam Muhammad and one of the runaway prisoners were injured after police encircled them in Minwar town, 13km from the jail, but the fugitives still managed to escape.
Gilgit-Baltistan police chief Zaffar Iqbal Awan told Dawn that police and other security forces had launched a search operation on Friday evening after receiving an intelligence tip and a clash took place in a hilly area near Minwar.
He said police had sealed off roads near a river, but the besieged prisoners jumped into a ditch and escaped.
He said the SHO and one of the fugitives were injured in the encounter.
The official said police had found some drugs, dates and other items left by the fleeing prisoners.
He said the search operation had been extended to Padi, Thalichi and areas bordering Diamer district.
Mr Awan said police were checking medical stores and private hospitals in the area to trace the injured prisoner.
He conceded that the jailbreak attempt by four prisoners had been assisted by some members of the security staff within the prison, but said an investigation was under way.
He said seven jail staff personnel and three religious leaders had been arrested.
Gilgit cantonment police registered a case against Tanzeem Alfaroqia leaders Mir Baz, Jamshid and Inaam and Gilgit Jail wardens Akbar Zaman and Musa Alam, head constable Saifuddin, dispenser Aziz, constable Mohammad Afzal and Frontier Constabulary’s constable Arif and obtained their physical remand for seven days from an anti-terrorism court.
A joint investigation team is dealing with the case under the supervision of Home Secretary Sibtain Ahmed.
POLICE INVESTIGATION: According to initial police investigation, 102 prisoners, including 25 sentenced to death by ATCs, were in the prison at the time of the jailbreak.
They included four men involved in the killings near Nanga Parbat of foreign tourists and their guide and two in the assassination of SSP Hilal Khan and two army officers in Diamer.
Hazrat Bilal, Dilbar Khan, Liaqat and Habibul Rahman of Diamer were kept in barrack-6.
The investigation showed that the four prisoners made a plan to flee on Thursday evening with the help of some members of the security staff.
Their barrack was locked but it had been opened on Friday morning to let them flee. Under the jail rules, the gate may be opened for high-profile prisoners only after permission from the jail superintendent and they may be taken out in case of an emergency with handcuffs, amid tight security.
The investigation also revealed that pistols had been provided to the prisoners from within the jail.
The prisoners went to the jail mosque and entered the dispensary after breaking a window.
From the dispensary they went to the western side of the jail near the boundary wall.
The prisoners scaled the 14-foot wall and jumped onto the Riverview Road at about 2.30am without facing resistance.
When they came to the road, policemen on patrol tried to intercept them, but they opened fire.
Police killed Bilal and injured Dilbar in the clash, while Liaqat and Habib fled.
The body and the injured prisoner were taken to the Kashorat hospital.
Initial reports said the jail security had been enhanced after a decision to transfer major cases of terrorism to military courts and personnel of Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts, Frontier Constabulary and police were on duty at the time.
Interestingly, Chief Secretary Sikandar Sultan Raja suspended Prisons Inspector General Muhammad Faisal who had himself taken the same action earlier against a deputy superintendent, an assistant superintendent, a head warden and two wardens after the incident.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2015