Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, having prisoners’ capacity of around 5,000, is overcrowded with over 6,000 inmates on average, is a sad reflection on prevailing societal trends as money power or influential connection is the order of the day here and anyone without such ‘luxury’ will have to face the bitter experience of languishing behind the bars unheard and unnoticed.
This scribe visited outside gates of Adiala Jail on Thursday evening located in the outskirts of Rawalpindi to personally witness the on-ground situation how the prisoners are treated here and finally get or manage their release after obtaining bails from courts.
There are two gates — number 3 and 5 — at the Adiala Jail where prisoners are released usually at night. The gate number 3 is meant to set free woman prisoners or VIPs having influential connection or using money power at the time of getting released well on time or even before.
One prisoner who was released on Thursday night at 9:00pm said that although jammers were installed within the premises of jail and even outside the gates there were no signals to avail of the cellphone facility.
But he told this scribe in the presence of several visitors that mobile phones were available even on the premises of the jail and putting handset at wall they were able to call through one network by breaking jammers strength.
“Such a breach can pose threats to security of jail premises especially under the context of peculiar security environment prevailing in our country,” another visitor commented. The roads on two sides are under construction and hence there is no space for visitors to wait outside the gate of the prison building. Usually 70 to 100 prisoners are released on average on working days.
An old lady coming from Islamabad’s rural area was among those waiting for release of her son. She said that she had come here at 6:00pm and was still waiting for release of her son till 8.30pm and did not know how much time she would have to wait here.
There is no designated waiting area for them and most of them are seen standing along with their vehicles on the road. Even there are no lights outside the jail premises on Thursday night.
At 9:00pm a young prisoner came outside from the jail through gate-5 and told this scribe that he had spent nine days behind the bars on a petty quarrel issue. Now he came to know that without money it was hard to stay at this place with less discomfort as he had observed that four killers who were staying along with his cell were spending around Rs200,000 a month to live “comfortable” life in the jail. However, he praised that a mosque, Imambargah and Church was available for performing prayers and worshipping in accordance with the belief of prisoners.
This scribe made efforts to interact with jail Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent but could not make contact either of the two, as mobiles were not working because of jammers. Although, landline number was obtained and after coming out from the jurisdiction of jail premises but no one was picking that phone.
This scribe again contacted jail authorities on Friday and got connected to one Deputy Superintendent, Farrukh Rasheed, who made all-out effort to convince this correspondent that they were doing all things for improving the situation which are humanly possible.
He said that the releasing of prisoners involved long and cumbersome process as they got release order from judicial authorities later part of the day so they were required to complete all procedural requirements including identification of their cell and all other things for tracing the right prisoner and bringing at released gate. He said that they had to content with the manual system as since computerised system was not in place so identification process took long time. Regarding no facility for visitors outside the jail premises, he said that owing to security reasons there was no place for night but at the day timing there was proper place designated for visitors. This scribe did not witness any seating arrangement outside the jail premises.
Regarding usage of mobile on jail premises, he said that he had caught 200 prisoners who made efforts to sneak mobile phones and drugs along with them at time of entering the jail. Now the jail administration had set up Public Call Office (PCO) where prisoners were allowed to make contacts with their loved ones.
For rehabilitation of prisoners, he said that they had established a factory for making carpets, iron rods, hospital beds, kit boxes and others things. The Punjab government in collaboration with TEVTA had launched pilot project where skills were provided to around 70 to 100 prisoners in three selected areas of welding, motor winding and electrician for three months course. For women prisoners, he said that they were imparted training in tailoring and beauty parlors.
He said that Punjab government was procuring land to establish new jail near Rawat and around 600 to 700 kanal of land would be obtained to build state of the art jail.
To another query, he said that the construction of family suits for allowing meeting to married prisoners was under construction but he could not mention when this project would be completed. This was another classic example how development projects were executed as this project was kick-started around 2009 but after passing several years it was not yet known when it would be completed. He said that he was working close to 24 hours to bring desired improvements as he left his office at 1:30am on Friday but again reached his office at 6:30am and they spared no stone unturned for bringing relief in lives of those who were living here behind the bars.