MUZAFFARABAD: Six policemen and two prisoners suffered minor injuries in a clash after the administration launched a search operation in Central Jail on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad on Saturday.
According to Divisional Commissioner Masoodur Rehman, the operation was launched after reports that some inmates were operating narcotics rackets and masterminding other criminal activities from the prison by using mobile phones and personal contacts.
“It’s the legal authority of the district magistrate to conduct such a search in any prison without any notice,” he told Dawn, adding that the raiding team reached the prison in Rara neighbourhood unarmed, even without sticks, in accordance with the jail manual at about 6am.
On seeing the raiding team, which was led by deputy commissioner Nadeem Ahmed Janjua and SSP Yasin Baig, inmates started creating fuss in a bid to disrupt and disallow the operation.
He said the administration halted the process for some time and asked the inmates to restore order, but to no avail.
“Instead of becoming peaceful they started hitting the barracks with iron rods apart from setting on fire their belongings which were believed to be narcotics,” he said.
The commissioner said the turmoil continued till 9am and as the rioting prisoners demanded to hold negotiations with senior officials, he and DIG Police Tahir Mahmood Qureshi reached the spot.
Nevertheless, he said, the prisoners did not behave and came out of the broken gates and windows of barracks onto the main compound where they started thrashing the police and unarmed jail personnel, leaving six of them wounded.
“It was only after that batons and tear gas wielding police personnel were sent inside who managed to push the rioters back into the barracks by charging them with sticks and using tear gas shells.”
He claimed that two “malingerers” among the inmates got themselves wounded by striking at the barracks. But all wounded persons were out of danger.
He said as many as 29 mobile phones, a large number of wooden and steel rods, 40 LPG cylinders and other contraband items that the inmates could not burn was recovered from the barracks.
The commissioner said that four hardened criminals who were disturbing atmosphere since long were shifted to Mirpur prison while another 14 who were at the forefront of Saturday’s rioting were shifted to the city police station.
According to the commissioner, the assistant superintendent of jail had been placed under suspension and an inquiry had been initiated under the orders of special secretary home department to determine as who among the jail staff had been facilitating the prisoners.
“The situation is now under total control,” he said.
He said he would visit the prison after the weekend to review the situation.
“All genuine issues would be addressed but no one would be allowed to organise crime or take law into its hands or dictate his terms to the administration.”