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Reports of ‘recruitment’ of prisoners in Karachi jail by IS rejected

Reports of ‘recruitment’ of prisoners in Karachi jail by IS rejected

KARACHI: While 17 inmates belonging to banned militant outfits were shifted from Karachi Central Prison to a jail in Sukkur on Wednesday, a provincial minister insisted that “not a single” prisoner had been recruited by the militant Islamic State group in the correctional facility.

A senior official in the provincial government told Dawn at least 17 prisoners belonging to various banned militant organisations were shifted to the Sukkur Central Prison “for security reasons”.

Officials said the shifting of these prisoners was part of the authorities’ plan in the light of some recent development in which law enforcement agencies reportedly carried out another raid at the Karachi Central Prison during which a couple of inmates were taken into custody for allegedly being involved in recruiting other inmates for IS.

17 high-profile inmates shifted to Sukkur from Karachi prison

According to recent media reports, the suspects belonging to a banned organisation had “recruited” several prisoners in jail; of these, a dozen had been released on bail and their whereabouts were not known.

Since then, a number of prisoners had been shifted elsewhere from the Karachi prison.

Last month, the provincial government had shifted 90 “high-profile” inmates from the Karachi prison to jails in other districts of the province and Rawalpindi on advice of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Also on Wednesday, Sindh Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar, who also holds the prisons portfolio, paid a visit to the Karachi Central Prison and praised jail officials for their work despite threats to their lives.

Speaking to reporters, he said security of jails in Sindh had “tangibly improved”.

He claimed no recruitment for IS had been made inside the Karachi prison. “Not a single prisoner belonging to banned organisations has been recruited from the central prison,” said Mr Lanjar.

About reports of the law enforcement agencies’ raid on Karachi jail, the minister said the paramilitary Rangers had raided the premises at the request of the prisons department. However, a similar raid conducted by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Sindh police the next day was not sanctioned, he added.

The controversy regarding the alleged presence of IS in the Karachi jail had emerged following the CTD raid.

Minister Lanjar said most prisoners belonging to militant organisations had already been shifted elsewhere.

“At least 90 per cent of such prisoners [having connection with the banned groups] have been shifted to various other prisons across the province; thus, such reports [showing IS recruitment]” have little merit, he said.

A CTD report claimed that militants locked up at the prison had access to the facility’s record room and sensitive files.

The report came after the escape of two militants — Shaikh Mohammad Mumtaz alias Firaun alias Sher Khan and Mohammad Ahmed Khan alias Munna — affiliated with the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi from Karachi Central Prison.

The CTD had said the two LJ militants escaped to Afghanistan after fleeing the Karachi jail in June.

An official report prepared after the jailbreak had claimed inmates belonging to banned outfits were virtually running the prison and managing their network from behind bars with impunity.

Minister Lanjar conceded that inmates ran the prison in the past, but “now the situation has changed and those who are entrusted to run the facility are running it”.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2017

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