‘Prisoners run crime outfits’: Complete cellphone jamming not in sight
By Muhammad Faisal Ali
LAHORE: Though the Punjab government has installed 10 low-range, small-size cellphone jamming devices in a few cells of high security barracks in six jails of the province, a large number of hardened convicts may still be operating their crime networks through cellphones.
The Punjab prisons department had installed two jamming devices each at Kot Lakhpat Central Jail, Rawalpindi Adiala Jail, and district jails of Faisalabad and Multan and one each at Sahiwal and Mianwali district jails with a total cost of Rs1 million on an experimental basis a few months ago. These devices are covering only a few cells where prisoners involved in sectarian and terror-related crimes have been kept.
But still a majority of the prisoners, either convicted for committing heinous crimes or facing trials, were virtually free to run their outfits through cellphones, posing a serious threat to the life and property of the people, including those who dare to help police in their convictions, sources said.
The sources told Dawn that the department had moved a summary to the chief minister for installation of 15 strong jamming devices across all the high security barracks in six central jails of the province. However, they said, the chief minister approved nine such devices having 300-600 meters range for high security zones in three central jails, one each in Faisalabad, Multan and Lahore. Each device would cost Rs1,235,400, they added.
The new jamming devices are likely to be installed by June this year.
They said though all 32 prisons should be completely covered through such devices to ensure fool-proof security, it was not financially feasible for the provincial government.
Several cases of notorious criminals operating through cellphones have been reported from different jails of the province.
Notorious criminal Mobeen Butt, who was killed in an ‘encounter’ with police, had reportedly been operating from Kot Lakhpat Jail through cellphone. He was convicted in connection with several cases of extortion, kidnap for ransom and murder.
Sources said such criminals could not use cellphones without the connivance of jail staff, who were bribed for the purpose.