LAHORE: Two prisoners in the Central Jail Faisalabad were found making calls to some dignitary(ies) from inside the jail.

A special team of the Punjab Prisons Department raided the Central Jail of Faisalabad on receiving intelligence reports that some suspicious and mysterious calls were made from a barrack and detected the callers. Headed by two DIGs of the department, the teams launched a massive search operation, isolated two inmates and seized from them mobile phones used for the calls to someone high profile of Faisalabad.

After the action, the superintendent and the deputy superintendent of the jail were suspended from service.

Punjab Prisons DIGs Salik Jillal and Naveed Rauf led the raiding teams that were dispatched from Lahore to Faisalabad on Monday.

The Punjab government high-ups had ordered Inspector General of Prisons Mian Farooq Nazir to keep the ‘operation highly secret,’ keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter.

Special operation launched to detect callers

Equipped with the latest gadgets, including special scanners, the teams scanned all the barracks, cells and parts of the jail.

A well-placed source said the experts were shocked to find that the prisoners were using mobile phones while beating the jammers installed by the authorities to block unauthorised calls from the jail. He said the raiding teams reported to the higher authorities through the Punjab Home Department that the suspects had beat the jammers before making calls.

The official source claimed that some agencies had passed information to the Punjab government when they detected the suspicious calls that were ‘not ordinary in nature’. Normally, the complaints of use of the mobile phones by the prisoners of the Punjab jails have been surfacing occasionally as they would contact their families and other related people outside the prisons. But, this particular incident has prompted the Punjab government to activate a high profile team from Lahore for a special targeted operation, the source said.

The official source said the calls were made on WhatsApp and the Punjab prisons authorities sent the mobile phones recovered from the prisoners for forensic analysis to further expand the scope of the investigation.

The source claimed that according to a primary report, it seemed the criminals made calls to the high-profile dignitary(s) of Faisalabad either for extortion or for other crime purpose. Both of the prisoners were undergoing life term awarded to them about three years back in separate murder cases, he said, adding that they were sharing the same barrack.

Soon after the operation, the Punjab prisons authorities shifted them to the ‘punishment cells’ and slapped a ban on them for all kinds of meetings till the completion of the investigation.

Punjab Prisons IG Mian Farooq Nazir confirmed the ‘targeted operation’ in the Faisalabad jail, saying that a detailed report had been sent to the home department for consideration of the Punjab government high-ups. He said it would not be appropriate to share more details of the operation as the matter was under investigation. However, the Faisalabad police had been engaged to initiate criminal proceedings against the two prisoners who operated mobile phones from the barracks.

Mr Nazir said Faisalabad Central Jail Superintendent Mansoor Akhtar (BPS-18) and Deputy Superintendent Ataur Rehman have been placed under suspension for 90 days on charges of inefficiency, negligence and misconduct.

The officers were found guilty of charges when the special teams detected mobile phones the prisoners were using from the jail.

About the prisoners who made suspicious calls, he said they had been ‘isolated’ in the special cells as punishment and further investigations were underway.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2023

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