Prison police are accused of beating and injuring 33 prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail apparently in the wake of an argument between prison teachers.
A prisoner at Kot Lakhpat jail speaking on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune that a Muslim teacher had asked a Christian teacher at the jail three weeks ago not to preach Christianity to Muslim prisoners.
He said a heated debate had ensued. He said later, a brawl had broken out between Christian and Muslim inmates. He said the prison police had intervened and separated them.
He said on Tuesday night, he heard cries from Barrack 8. He said he later learnt that some jail officials, led by Deputy Superintendent (Executive) Haji Mazhar and three assistant superintendents, and barrack heads (selected from prisoners) had picked certain Christian inmates accused of complaining to their families of harassment at the jail and beat them with clubs. He said when they were being searched, some of the prisoners objected to being handled by Muslims.
He said 33 of the prisoners suffered severe injuries, including fractures. He said the beating had gone on for over half an hour.
He said they had been taken to the jail hospital.
Human Liberation Commission Chairman Aslam Parvaiz Sahotra told The Express Tribune that some Christian inmates had informed him that after the clash, two teachers and a prisoner had said the Christian inmates should convert to Islam or face “dire consequences.”
He said on Christmas eve, prisoners Aftab, Rehmat Yaqoob, Karamat Shahana and Parvaiz Masih had told him that they were beaten by prisoners after the clash between their teachers. He identified the prisoner he said had led the group prisoners who beat them.
Assistant Superintendent Rana Latif said 33 inmates had been isolated. He denied that they had been beaten and had been hospitalised with injuries. He said the matter between prison teachers had been resolved amicably.
He said that on Tuesday, following a clash between two groups of prisoners, some had tried to start a fire.
He said some of the Christian prisoners had filed a complaint claiming that the prison church was being used for “immoral activities.”
He said some prisoners in the barrack had set three blankets on fire. He said the fire was controlled quickly.
He said three members of the prison staff were injured in the incident.
He said prison authorities had registered an FIR at the Kot Lakhpat police station against five Christian inmates.
However, no FIR was found to have been registered regarding the incident.
The incident was also not reported in the roznamcha (diary).
Another jail official speaking on condition of anonymity said two groups of Christian prisoners had clashed over spending money found from the donation box placed at the jail church.
Dr Muhammad Afzal, who works at the jail hospital, said he had been on leave since the day of incident and was not aware of the matter.
Two Indian prisoners Chamel Singh and Sarabjit Singh were beaten to death at Kot Lakhpat Jail last year.
There are 150 Christian prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat jail as well as Sikh, Hindu, and Ahmadi inmates currently.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2014.