A mysterious rise in deaths of inmates has been witnessed at Camp Jail Lahore lately with as many as six prisoners passing away in the last 12 days.
Two prisoners who were taken to a hospital died on Sunday.
One of the deceased identified as Sarfaraz, a resident of Kot Radha Kishan, was reportedly shifted to Lahore Services Hospital with a head injury. The other victim has been identified as Abdul Salam and was shifted to the same hospital when his health deteriorated.
Likewise, a day earlier on Saturday (December 11) a prisoner identified as Ali Akbar had died. He was also suffering from a chronic illness reportedly.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune that the number of deaths increased with the arrival of winter season as prisons lack necessary facilities.
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“Unfortunately, our jails do not have central heating system,” he said, adding that there is also a shortage of warm clothes for inmates due to “corruption as well conservative supply”.
The official said the prisons in the province are “nothing less than a road for homeless people”. “When the mother nature turns harsh to them, their life becomes miserable,” he added.
In jails, only the rich or affluent or severely ill can access the medical facility easily, he maintained.
As many as 47 prisoners have died at Camp Jail this year alone due to harsh weather conditions and other reasons, he said, adding that deaths of over 200 inmates have been reported in jails across the province in 2021.
The jails in Punjab are overcrowded. A report submitted by Prisons Department before Lahore High Court in February said that the number of prisoners in jail is 50,578, while the capacity is 36,806.
“This leads to poor hygiene and gaps in health facilities resulting in poor health and subsequently deaths,” he added.
To mitigate these issues, the Government of Punjab is constructing new barracks, washrooms and new hospitals in the prisons.
The provincial government has allocated Rs7099.562 million for Prisons Department of Development Budget for prisons in 2021.
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Among other projects, the amount is being spent on construction of 20 bed units for the treatment of drug addicts, conversion of 45 judicial lockups into sub-jails, construction of additional multi-storied barracks in all jails of Punjab, rehabilitation of Central Jail Dera Ghazi Khan, construction of washrooms/toilets and laundry block in all barracks of high density jails of the province.
On November 19, Punjab Prisoners Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan held a meeting about administrative matters of Punjab Prisons Foundation and discussed the progress on provision of missing facilities to the prisoners.