That the prison authorities resorted to use of brutal force to quell a protest by prisoners in Hyderabad Central Jail is highly regrettable. The killing of seven and injuring of around 30 prisoners indicates the scale on which the police authorities used firepower to control the protesting prisoners.It is quite unlikely that the prisoners revolted against the jail administration for a temporary shortage of facilities and blockage of water, gas and electricity supply. A massive protest shows that this problem must have existed for quite some time. The underlying question here is why should a problem like this be allowed to fester to a point where the prisoners have to resort to collective protest? Why did the jail authorities not facilitate the prisoners when they registered their complaints peacefully?
Moreover, the reaction of the police to this protest is not only alarming but highly condemnable. Surely, there must have been other more appropriate ways to control this outbreak than opening fire at the inmates. The prisoners in jail are the responsibility of the state and the jail administration is delegated the task to rehabilitate them and ensure their wellbeing. What was the need of using such excessive force?The Sindh High Court sought a comprehensive report about the incident from the district and sessions judge, Hyderabad. However, this might not be sufficient. This incident requires a higher level enquiry, preferably by a judge of the Sindh High Court.
This is not the first time an incident like this has taken place. In fact, countless protests have been reported in different district jails in recent years. The conditions of jails in Pakistan are deplorable, housing many more than their capacity. Prisoners are deprived of even the basic amenities. It is doubtful if there are any rehabilitation programmes available, or if any activities are organised to keep them occupied. As a result, novices who go to jail come out as hardened criminals. We must improve the conditions of our jails and facilitate prisoners as much as possible. Our objective should be to rehabilitate them not just detain them. Developed countries have highly developed systems focused on reforming the detainees rather than simply keeping them behind bars. The world has moved on; it is time we did too – Dailytimes