GUJRAT: The district prison descended into anarchy on Monday after a scuffle between police and inmates turned into a full-blown riot, which saw a senior police officer injured and barracks set on fire.

Gunshots were also heard from inside the prison while inmates also pelted guards with stones.

According to Gujrat District Police Officer Ghazanfar Shah, the riots erupted after an exchange of harsh words between prisoners and jail officials at around 5pm.

As the police attempted to negotiate with the prisoners, they started pelting stones, injuring Gujrat City Circle DSP Parvez Gondal and other officers.

The injured officers were moved to Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Teaching Hospital where they are under treatment. DSP Gondal has been discharged after receiving first aid.

The police also resorted to aerial firing to disperse the rioters but failed to rein them in, according to sources.

However, DPO Shah told Dawn that the situation was under control.

A spokesman for Gujrat Police said rioters stopped pelting stones after the negotiations, which were still underway till the filing of this report.

He said the exact reason for the incitement could only be determined after a detail detailed investigation.

Videos posted on social media purportedly of the prison showed flames eru­pting from a building. However, Dawn couldn’t confirm the veracity of the videos.

According to police officials, the fire has been extinguished and efforts were underway to control the situation for which talks were being held.

Prisons DIG, Gujrat DPO and other officials of the prisons department were holding talks with the rioters, according to official sources.

Gujranwala RPO Muneer Masood Marth, Gujrat DC Amer Shahzad Kang, Gujran­wala SSP and Wazirabad DPO are also present inside the prison. A heavy contingent of Gujrat Police reached the prison to avoid any possible attempts by the inmates to escape.

More reinforcements from Gujran­wala, Mandi Bahauddin and Wazirabad districts have also been called to assist Gujrat police.

Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Moh­sin Naqvi has also taken notice of the incident and directed senior police officers to take strict action against the rioters.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2023

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