KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was told on Monday that the provincial government was making efforts to shift the Karachi central prison from the centre of the city.
Giving a statement and replies to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour in the house on behalf of the minister concerned, Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that the provincial government had earlier planned the shifting of the prison from the main city, but the legal fraternity protested over the move.
He said that the place where central prison was located was on the outskirts of the city when it was built by the Britishers in 1891, adding that later the city expanded leaving the prison in the middle of the city.
In response to a verbal question by an opposition member, the minister said that the mobile phone jammers were installed in the prison under a standard operating procedure (SOP) of jail security.
He conceded that people living around and near the jail faced inconvenience due to installation of mobile jammers.
The opposition member also pointed out that one of the ways of the dual carriage road to jail was closed at night adding to the miseries of area people in particular and the public in general.
In reply to a verbal question by Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s member Mohammed Hussain, the minister said that proper fire-fighting facilities were available in the prison to meet any eventuality.
In response to a question asked by opposition member Rana Ansar, he said there were 158 female under trial prisoners, 45 convicted women in four women prisons.
Giving the break-up, the minister said that 108 female UTPs were confined in the central prison for women in Karachi, 30 in special prison for women in Hyderabad, 12 in special prison for women in Larkarna and eight in special prison for women in Sukkur.
He said that 24 convicted women were lodged in Karachi, 14 in Hyderabad, five in Larkana and two in Sukkur.
Besides, he said, two convicted women were on death row in the central prison in Karachi and one in Hyderabad.
To a supplementary question asked by Grand Democratic Alliance member Nusrat Saher Abbasi, Mr Shaikh said that there was no woman in prison for want of payment of fine.
The GDA member pointed out that a large number of poor prisoners were still languishing in jails despite serving their respective terms only due to non-payment of fines imposed on them.
She asked the minister what measures the provincial government was taking for giving relief to poor prisoners who did not have money to pay fines.
The minister said that several poor prisoners were released after the provincial government arranged payment of fines imposed on them.
Moreover, he said, a legal aid committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid helped poor prisoners get released after payment of fines.
In reply to a question, the minister said that a primary school was already operational in Youthful Offenders School Karachi since 1995.
Besides, he said, a secondary school was also operating under the control of the education department where prisoners were receiving education.
In reply to a question asked by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s member Sidra Imran, the minister said that technical courses were offered to juvenile offenders confined at Youthful Offenders Industrial School Karachi by prison staff and non-governmental organisation.
He said the juvenile offenders were given training in computer, painting, tailoring and carpentry.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2019