KARACHI - Following the reports of possible terror threats to “sensitive” prisons in the province, the Sindh government has shifted at least 50 dangerous prisoners to other jails in rural districts from Karachi.

Issuing security alerts for the jails, the government has also decided to establish extra pickets around the Karachi central prison. Chaired by Sindh Minister for Law and Prisons Muhammad Ayaz Soomro at his Sindh Assembly office, a high-level meeting, on Thursday, reviewed security measures for the prisons, and ordered early completion of repair and maintenance work being carried out at various jails in the province.

Sources privy to the meeting told this newspaper that as many as 50 dangerous prisoners had been ferried to other jails in rural districts from the Karachi central jail. “Thirty-seven prisoners were shifted on Wednesday and 13 on Thursday,” they added.

In their report(s) to the Sindh chief minister and quarters concerned, intelligence agencies revealed that “the Talibans and certain extremist cells were planning to attack the jails, especially the central jail, with an objective to get their colleagues freed”. It may be noted here that a number of dangerous prisoners – having links with the Talibans, extremist cells and banned outfits – are behind the bars for their alleged involvement in attacks on security forces, besides sectarian killings.

“(The) dangerous prisoners have been shifted to other jails after the security threats to the central prison and others,” the law & prisons minister told the media following the meeting, which was also attended by Special Secretary for Prisons Department Ali Hassan Birohi, IG (Prisons) Ghulam Qadir Thebo among senior officials.

“Security has been tightened in and around the jails, while more pickets would be put up around the central jail to enhance its fortification,” Soomro said while adding that a new building, where up to 1,000 prisoners could be kept, would be completed this year behind the Landhi jail.

The Sindh government had, said the minister, turned down the proposal to establish city courts at the existing buildings of the Karachi central jail, contending that it had a historical background and many prominent politicians remained kept there (for their struggle for democracy). “So, neither it would be demolished nor handed over for establishment of lower courts.” He, however, added that if there was any urgency to shift the existing city courts, the government would provide land for the purpose.

According to the minister, the meeting also reviewed repair and maintenance work being carried out at the various jails, and directed for their completion before December this year. He, however, expressed dismay over the non-initiation of construction and repair work at numerous jails in the province despite the fact that funds had been released beforehand.

Soomro also said that after the completion of new barracks, the existing jail in Mirpurkhas city would be converted into a public park. When the meeting was informed that the Karachi, Malir and Badin jails had been stuffed beyond their capacity, it ordered that new barracks in these jails be completed at the earliest.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah ordered that the inflow of mobilephones in jails be curbed. He also directed that all preventive, precautionary and proactive measures be taken on urgent basis. He also called for frequent checking be conducted inside the jails.