South Asian Insider
Srinagar central jail — A paradise for terrorists
(News Agencies) jAMMU: The security lapse that led to the escape of Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Naveed Jat from Srinagar Central jail on Tuesday was waiting to happen.
From smartphones with internet data packs to Kashmiri 'wazwan' mutton delicacies, all luxuries of the free world are available to inmates in the jail where several dreaded terrorists have been lodged.
Jail sources told the TOI that every rule in the book is brazenly flouted in the prison, with little or no intervention from higher authorities in the state government.
For example, Kashmir media regularly gets press releases of Qasim Faktu alias Ashiq Faktu, who is undergoing conviction in Srinagar Central jail for the killing of human right activist H N Wanchoo. One of the top terrorist undergoing life imprisonment is often visited by dozens of devotees who consider him a godman and receive 'taveez' (amulets) from him, sources said.
Convicted militant leaders openly use cell phones to keep in touch with their associates in other jails and their organizations both in Kashmir and across the border in Pakistan. The 2010 unrest, according to sources, was also orchestrated from within the Central jail by the dreaded anti-India Islamist separatist Masarat Alam using mobile phones. Official sources revealed that a pharmacist, Mansoor Ahmad, has been posted in Central jail for the last ten years and developed a close rapport with the inmates. Mansoor, according to sources, helps the jailed terrorists with medical consultation and check-ups in various Srinagar hospitals. Dr Zeenat Nizami, the medical officer who referred Naveed Jat and five other inmates for a medical check-up in SMHS hospital, has been on the jail duty for over three years. Along with her, the health department has also posted Dr Sajjad Ahmad, who is supposedly sick and remains on leave often, sources said. The militants are also known to get 'wazwan' (Kashmiri cuisine) mutton dishes inside the jail. Almost ten years ago, CRPF conducted a crackdown on the jail and recovered mutton choppers and knives for mincing and making 'kebabs' and dozens of cell phones. However, the crackdown did not change anything in the jail. Sources said such lavish treatment of militants in Central jail was extended under the patronage of the jail superintendent Hilal Ahmad Rather. However, the superintendent, who has risen from ranks, denied the charges and said, "We follow the jail menu strictly.
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