GUJRAT: Corruption and misbehaviour of some senior officials of the district jail is said to be the reason behind Monday’s riots by the prison inmates here.

The situation turned normal in the wee hours of Tuesday after hectic negotiations between the inmates and Prisons Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Saeedullah Gondal and Jail Superintendent Ghulam Sarwar. A heavy contingent of police was still deployed around the premises to tackle any untoward situation.

Meanwhile, the Civil Lines police booked at least 250 unidentified prisoners of the district jail on charges of rioting. The case was lodged on the report of Rana Muhammad Latif, the deputy superintendent of district jail, under sections 324, 440, 436, 353, 148 and 149 of the PPC.

According to a report by Rescue 1122, 18 people were injured, including City Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Parvez Gondal, two jail officials and several inmates, while 15 others suffered minor injuries.

250 prisoners booked on charges of rioting; five-member team to probe clashes

The initial probe conducted by the district administration revealed that the riots started when a senior jail official reportedly slapped a prisoner after exchange of harsh words on the issue of installing a hanger on the wall. It further alleged that Assistant Superintendent of Jail Khushi Muhammad and two other senior officials were consistently misbehaving with the prisoners and also forcing them to pay bribe on one pretext or the other.

Reportedly, while the prisoners were out of their barracks as per routine on Monday, a senior official slapped an inmate that flared up the situation after which the prisoners started protesting by pelting police with stones and trying to break the internal gate of the complex.

Police force rushed to the spot and DSP Gondal entered the jail to talk to the prisoners, who continued to pelt stones, which hit the official in his head.

Monday’s power breakdown across the country also caused serious problems for the jail administration and police in tackling the riots.

Superintendent Sarwar was on leave, but he reached the prison and along with the DIG held talks with the prisoners.

Official sources said Mr Sarwar had earlier been dismissed from service in connection with the killing of three judges and five prisoners in a firing incident in the Sialkot jail on July 25, 2003.

They added Gujrat Deputy Commissioner Amer Shahzad Kang has recommended a regular inquiry into the affairs of the district jail as this was the second major violent incident on the premises in the last couple of years. The previous incident was also allegedly caused due to the corruption and bribery of jail officials.

According to the first information report registered following the clashes, some prisoners had instigated their fellows alleging that jail official Khushi Muhammad had desecrated the holy Quran after which the prisoners started to damage jail property and pelted the staff with stones.

It added that mobile phone jammers, the central watch tower, ration, medicines, furniture, water filtration plant, water chiller, technical training centre, call room, sanitary pipes, close circuit cameras and hospital furniture were completely burnt by the rioters.

Moreover, Punjab Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Mubashar Ahmed Khan constituted a five-member team to conduct a detailed inquiry and submit a report within 24 hours. The committee comprised DIG Gondal, Lahore AIG (Prisons) Ishtiaq Gill, superintendents of Attock and Sialkot district jails Farrukh Rasheed and Zaheer Virk and Faisalabad region Deputy Superintendent of Prisons Rana Shamshad.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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