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Hiring of 800 warders not in sight

January 06, 2013

LAHORE, Jan 6: The Punjab Prisons Department is awaiting the government’s nod for the recruitment of 800 jail warders for multiple new assignments at watch towers and observing posts being constructed outside the nine central jails to prevent terror activities.

The construction of security enclosure walls and observing posts outside the perimeter walls of the nine central jails is in progress, with fresh completion deadline of March. Sixteen district jails are expected to be walled in the same way till expected deadline of June 30 this year.

The security enclosure walls outside the central jails had to be completed by Sept/Oct 2012 according to the original plan.

A militants’ attack on KPK’s Bannu Central Jail and escape of nearly 400 prisoners in April last year alarmed the Punjab jail authorities who immediately launched multiple projects to secure the provincial jails, recruit field officials to overcome shortage and equip the force with sophisticated weapons and training.

Some central jails including Rawalpindi Adiyala Jail, Lahore Kot Lakhpat Jail, Mianwali Jail and Lahore District Camp Jail have been receiving threats for the last six months.

Officials told Dawn that most of the alerts issued from the Interior Ministry and intelligence agencies stated the possibility of attacks by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to get their high-profile fellows released. Around 300 people are in jail for sectarian and militant activities.

They said some jailers of the central jails had also been receiving direct threats from the militants and banned outfits who warned them of dire consequences against complaints of manhandling sectarian prisoners.

Officials further said the 32 jails in the province were facing shortage of 1,500 warders despite recruitment of around 1,300 in the last one year, adding the induction of 800 warders would help the authorities man the outer security walls.

They said several posts again fell vacant after warders and head warders either retired from service or left the job after recruitment or failed to join the training. They said the proposal regarding recruitment of warders had been pending with the provincial home department for the last two months and it is claimed that the government would shortly approve it.

They said the department had so far purchased arms and ammunition worth Rs68 million for the improvement of jails’ security and the government had also provided Rs200 million for the installation of cell phone jammers, metal detectors, wireless sets, searchlights and CCTV cameras.

To cope with jailbreaks, terror attacks and riots, as many as 800 jail warders and a dozen officers in four batches had got a month-long training on how to use modern weapons at the Pakistan Army’s Attock Artillery Center and 2,500 others would be getting the training till September this year.

The fifth batch comprising 200 warders and six officers is going to attend the training from Monday (today).

Similarly, the first batch of 100 warders is currently getting six-month long elite police training at the Punjab Elite Police Force Training School, Baidian and an agreement with the school will allow each batch of 100 warders to join the same course in future.

Officials said the department was about to send a summary to the Punjab chief minister for approval of 40 per cent special allowance for the warders (completing the course) on the pattern of the police department.