Intel alert: Rangers ready to help police prevent jailbreaks

Pakistan on 05 August 2013
Location : Lahore, Pakistan | Source : The Nation.

LAHORE - Acting on a security alert from intelligence agencies, Rangers officials are being deployed at prisons across Punjab to prevent a DI Khan-like attack and jailbreak, said the inspector general prisons on Sunday.

Mian Farooq told The Nation he visited Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) Director General Major-General Muhammad Hilal Hussain and briefed him about sensitivity of the issue. He said he had been assured of every possible support by the director general to deal with terrorism.

On July 30, heavily-armed Taliban insurgents freed nearly 250 inmates, among them 35 high-value militants, during a brazen overnight attack on central jail in Dera Ismail Khan.

To a question, the inspector general said first Rangers officials would be deputed outside jails in Rawalpindi, Dera Ghazi Khan and Faisalabad while deployment in Lahore and Multan would be made at a later stage.

He said it was being done only for the reason that Rangers deployment was already made at some sensitive points and that troops would be withdrawn from there. He said Rangers would assist police and other law-enforcement agencies in security matters around prisons.

The Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak is a sequel to Bannu jailbreak in which 150 Taliban fighters stormed the facility and released nearly 400 prisoners.

Sources in Prisons Department said a comprehensive analysis of the flaws in the prison system was needed.
They said police had been deployed around jails, but since terrorists were more organized, police force alone could not deal with the situation.

Sources said the authorities had moved high-value prisoners to different detainment facilities throughout the country, such as Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. But according to intelligence inputs there was also a threat to this prison. 

An improvement in security matters for prisons is required. Separation of hardened criminals and militants from minor and first-time offenders is crucial too.

Provincial Home Ministry should build high-security facilities, ensure a crackdown on use of mobilephones in prisons, install jammers and surveillance cameras at all prisons and take stern action against negligent officials.
According to Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, there are eight central jails in Punjab wherein 317 prisoners involved in high-profile cases are being kept. Out of these 317 prisoners, 194 are hardcore criminals and 123 involved in sectarian crimes.

In Lahore jails 50 prisoners involved in terrorism and 23 in sectarian crimes are being kept. In Rawalpindi 66 terrorists and six involved in sectarian crimes have been jailed. Faisalabad jails are keeping 37 terrorists and 12 charged with sectarian violence. In Multan four terrorists and 42 others charged with sectarian crimes are being kept.

In Bahawalpur 15 terrorists and 19 others charged with sectarian crimes have been jailed. Mianwali has 16 inmates who are all involved in terrorist activities.

A senior jail officer, seeking anonymity, said it was duty of police to provide security to jails since there were only 10,000 jail staffers to look after over 45,000 prisoners in 32 jails across Punjab.

He said most of the jail staff was not even trained to use weapons. 

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