Police have arrested 12 jail staffers, including a superintendent and deputy superintendent of Karachi's central prison, following the escape of two high-profile Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militants on Tuesday, police sources said.
Under-trial prisoners, Shaikh Muhammad Mumtaz alias Firoon and Muhammad Ahmed Khan alias Muna had escaped from the judicial complex of Central Prison Karachi on Tuesday in what was described as a daredevil move.
Startling revelations about the incident indicate that the prisoners had escaped on Tuesday by breaking its grill while the jail staff came to know about their escape on Wednesday when they were supposed to be presented before the court inside the jail, officials said.
New Town police have arrested 12 jail staff in the aftermath of the incident and have registered an FIR against them on complaint of DIG Prisons Ashraf Ali Nizamani under sections 223 (escape from confinement or custody negligently suffered by public servant), 224 (resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) 225 (resistance or obstruction to lawful apprehension of another person) 225-A (omission to apprehend, or sufferance of escape, on part of public servant, in cases not otherwise provided for.)
Gulshan Superintendent of Police (SP) Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto told Dawn that the apprehended jail staff told the police that they had presented both prisoners belonging to LJ before the 'court' located in the judicial complex inside the jail premises on Tuesday but they "escaped" by breaking the grill of the court.
He added that the arrested officers said they had not "realised" that the prisoners had escaped for a whole day, only to find them "missing" on Wednesday when the convicts were to be presented before the court.
The Gulshan SP said the police were further investigating the case.
CTD reveals embarrassing details
An initial investigation by the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) team revealed that the prisoners could not have broken through the prison grills in one day.
Additional Inspector General (AIG) CTD Dr Sanaullah Abbasi who along with the CTD team visited the Central Prison on Thursday told Dawn the jail staff had presented the prisoners before a "non-functional court" inside the judicial complex when only one of the prisoners was supposed to be presented before the court.
He also noted that the judge of the said court was not available on the day of their court appearance.
"There was no hearing of the case against the other prisoner but despite this, he was presented there [at the court]. There was gross negligence of the jail staff behind the escape of the militants, but their possible connivance is still being probed," said the CTD Sindh chief.
Abbasi also noted that one of the escaped militants had shaved his beard before fleeing the prison.
The AIG also hinted at the possibility of other militants languishing in the jail helping the escapees in their bid to flee and said the CTD was interrogating inmates to conclude the matter.
Raja Umer Khattab, a senior official of the CTD, told Dawn that both LJ militants were arrested by the CTD police in 2013 and that they were both hardcore supporters of the banned outfit. They belonged to Qasim Rasheed group, which was linked with Naeem Bukhari-led LJ outfit.
One of the escaped convicts, Shaikh Mumtaz, is a resident of Orangi Town was stated to be involved in the targeted killings of 57 people, including members of Shia community and the police. He was being tried in 32 criminal cases. The other escaped militant, Ahmed, has been identified as a resident of Korangi and was involved in seven targeted killing cases.
Meanwhile, Inspector General Police Sindh A.D. Khowaja announced a Rs5 million reward for any information leading to the rearrest of the militants, a police spokesman said.
Khowaja made the announcement during a meeting to review security arrangements for Youm-e-Ali and steps taken to control traffic mess and street crimes during Ramazan.