February 2000 News

Militant's escape: Govt order to jail

7 February 2000
Indian Express
By Pradeep Dutta

JAMMU: To check the recurrence of incidents like the recent escape of a top militant commander from SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, the prisions's authorities have instructed the doctors at the high security Kot Bhalwal jail here, not to refer any inmate to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu.

Instead, the jail doctors have been advised to refer the inmates only to the police hospitals in case of any urgency, official sources here said. The orders followed the escape of supreme commander of Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Ghulam Rasool Shah alias General Abdullah, from police custody in SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.

The Kot Bhalwal jail, at present has 243 inmates and most of them are foreign mercenaries. Apart from them, several leaders of All Party Hurriyat Conference are also detained there.

The high security priosn, from where an ideologue of the Pan Islamic Harkat-ul-Ansar, Maulana Masood Azhar, was recently released in exchange of the hostages at Kandahar, had witnessed attempts of various jail break attempts by the inmates in the past. Only two years ago, a dreaded Pakistani militant Mohammad Irfan, along with some other militants had escaped from the jail under mysterious circumstances.

The staff at Kot Bhalwal jail had already initiated various precautionary measures in view of the repeated attempt by militants to escape including restrictions on the movement of inmates and not allowing them to stand on the roof-tops of their barracks.

However, Gen Abdullah's escape from the Srinagar hospital made th Kot Bhalwal jail authorities further beef up security measures while taking an inmate out of the prison or bringing him back.

In this connection, sources said that they have decided to double the poilce escort taking a militant to the hospital for treatment or to the court. Those escorting the militants have also been instructed not to stop the vehicle enroute.

However, the jail authorities' decision to refer jail inamtes only to the police hospital has caused unrest among them, as this has led to curtailment of their activities to a greater extent.

Substantiating, sources said that there have been frequent altercations between the jail doctors nad the militants detained there during the last two days.

Significantly, the militants by and large insist on the jail doctor to refer them to nly a particular doctor for treatment on GMC. In one such incidentn on February 3, the detained Hurriyat leaders Agha Sayed and Aftab along with other jail inmates mishandled one of the jail doctors after he refused to refer to a private doctor.

It may be mentioned that there were directions from the High Court askign jail authorities to get Agha regularly checked-up from a specialist as he is a patient of hypertension.

"But on examining him, our doctors did not find any such symptoms. So I wrote a letter in this regard to High Court. But, so far we have not received any reply from their side," informded Chanchal Singh, Kot Bhalwal jail superintendent.

There were also intelligence reports that militants were using their visit to hsopital to meet their accomplices and couriers, who used to come there masquerading as patients. During the process they (jail inmates) not only use to share or pass on crucial information to their counterparts and sometiems also bring in incriminating material from them, which was later distributed among other inmates, informed a senior intelligence officer.

"It is difficult for us to kmeep a check on their activities in GMC, as we cannot curtial the movement of people there. So we decided to refer cases to police where the movement of outsiders is restricted," said the jail supreintendent.


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