LAHORE: The Punjab Prisons authorities have so far released 1,200 out of around 3,000 PTI leaders and workers arrested in the aftermath of the May 9 riots.
Of the remaining prisoners, Punjab’s jails are housing only seven women prisoners belonging to the PTI. They include former provincial health minister Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid and Khadija Shah, the famous dress designer and a granddaughter of former army chief Asif Nawaz Janjua.
All the seven PTI women leaders and workers arrested in the cases lodged against them under charges of terrorism and attacks on military installations are being kept in various barracks of Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail where 150 other women prisoners are also confined.
The jail officials say that the PTI workers and leaders released by the authorities on the court orders have been detained under the Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order.
“We have only seven PTI leaders and workers, including Prof Yasmin Rashid and Khadija Shah,” says Punjab Inspector General of Prisons Mian Farooq Nazir while talking to Dawn.
Rejects reports of mistreatment; Yasmin, Khadija among seven women being kept at Kot Lakhpat; total number of PTI prisoners across province 1,800
He adds that there are 43 jails in Punjab and no female PTI leader or worker is confined in any other jail of the province except the seven mentioned above who are being kept in the lady ward of the Kot Lakhpat Jail.
Rejecting the reports that hundreds of PTI women workers are present in several jails across the province, he also dismissed the rumours of mistreatment or alleged rape of the PTI women in jails.
About the recent serious concerns of PTI chairman Imran Khan and other senior party leaders about the alleged possible rape of the female prisoner of their political party, he declares them mere propaganda and an attempt to malign the prison department through social media.
“All the seven PTI women have undergone medical tests conducted by the women doctors at the lady ward of the Kot Lakhpat Jail,” Mr Nazir asserts and added that medical tests done multiple times of all the seven PTI leaders and the workers show that their health condition is quite stable
Mr Nazir claims that the barracks are being monitored through the CCTV cameras and no male official, including himself, is allowed to visit the lady barracks at night as per the jail’s standard operating procedures (SOPs). He says the lady ward houses multiple barracks and five special cells where officially no male is appointed in all the three shifts in order to ensure the privacy of the women prisoners.
A lady doctor and two lady health visitors attend the women prisoners in each shift, the IG Prisons says and adds: “No torture or alleged rape incident was reported or mistreatment meted out to any women prisoner at the Kot Lakhpat Jail”.
About the security measures, Mian Farooq Nazir informs that under a special feature, the lady ward of the Kot Lakhpat Jail can only be locked from inside, saying, “No one can lock or unlock it from outside the ward and this facility has been made available to the lady staff of the jail for the protection of the female prisoners.”
Another senior official of the Punjab Prisons Department says the jail authorities have provided sufficient facilities to the women prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.
Following the hot weather conditions, he claims, 16 air coolers besides the ceiling fans have been installed in the lady ward of the jail to maintain the required temperature. In addition, the authorities have installed 400kVA generator as an alternate arrangement to maintain electricity supply to the lady ward in case of power outages.
To another question, the official source says that the PTI’s women arrested in the cases lodged against them for attacking military installations have been declared ‘Class C prisoners’.
According to the Pakistan Prisons Rules, the prisoners who face charges of anti-terrorism charges were classified into ‘C Class’, he asserts, adding that A and B classes are called the superior class allowed to the prisoners on the approval granted by the Punjab Home Department.
The A and B class prisoners are entitled to get facilities including a mattress, television, table and chair.
As all the seven PTI women are facing terrorism charges and allegations of attacks on the state institutions installations, they are kept in barracks and provided facilities entitled for the C class prisoners. The facilities for them include towels, toothpaste, soaps, air coolers, food, hygienic kits etc, the official adds.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2023