20 high-profile prisoners being shifted from Gilgit to Punjab
GILGIT: The authorities have decided to shift 20 high profile prisoners from Gilgit jail to different prisons in Punjab in the wake of the recent jailbreak incident in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Sources said that three prisoners involved in Nanga Parbat massacre were also among the 20 inmates, who would be shifted to Punjab jails. Two suspects charged with Nanga Parbat base camp attack escaped from the jail on March 1 while one of their accomplices was killed and another was injured by security forces during the jailbreak incident.
An official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that after the jailbreak incident Gilgit police failed to arrest the runaway prisoners. The besieged prisoners escaped after an encounter with the police, he said adding that SHO Gulam Mohammad and one of the fugitives were injured in the encounter.
The official said after lapse of two weeks, police could not trace the runaway prisoners that raised questions about security of Gilgit jail.
Currently 100 prisoners, including 20 sentenced to death by anti-terrorism courts, are kept in the Gilgit jail.
Official says the administration fears another jailbreak
The official said that three of the convicted prisoners were involved in Nang Parbat incident, wherein 10 foreign tourists were killed in 2013 and two were involved in assassination of SSP Hilal Khan and two army officers in Diamer.
He said that a total of 11 suspects were involved in the Nanga Parbat incident. Police had arrested five of them, one prisoner escaped in the Gilgit jailbreak incident and one was injured in encounter with police, he added.
The official said that six suspects involved in the Nanga Parbat massacre were still at large. He said that administration decided to shift seven cases to military courts under National Action Plan.
After the jailbreak, Gilgit-Baltistan government decided to shift the convicted prisoners to jails in Punjab, the official said, adding the process of shifting the prisoners was underway.
He said that the administration feared another jailbreak incident. “Despite security threats and challenges in the region, it is difficult to shift under-trial cases of terrorism from Gilgit-Baltistan to other areas of the country as appearance of witnesses in the courts in these cases is not easy due to long distance and security issues along Karakorum Highway,” he said.
The official said that local administration and law enforcement agencies were yet to trace the two runaway prisoners. “At least 900 security personnel are taking part in the search operation to trace the runaway prisoners,” he added.
Another official said that they were investigating the jailbreak incident. According to initial investigation, the prisoners escaped with the help of prison security staff.
“Seven jail staffers and three religious leaders have been arrested,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2015