KARACHI: A large network of at least eight health facilities, mostly private primary and secondary-care facilities in Karachi as well as three leading public hospitals, is being used to provide luxurious accommodation to influential and convicted prisoners of the Central Prison Karachi and District Prison Malir in connivance with jail authorities, officials in the prison, home and health departments said on Wednesday.
Following the allegations of malpractices in the prolonged and unjustified hospitalization of prisoners at public and private hospitals in Karachi, the Sindh Home Department on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the matter and directed Additional Secretary (Prisons) of Sindh Home Department to submit his report within three working days to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
The notification confirms the report that 21 prisoners were sent to different public and private hospitals from Central and Malir Prisons, according to information provided by Inspector General Prisons, Sindh.
Officials told The News that at least eight public and private hospitals were being regularly used to house high-profile, influential prisoners from Karachi’s Central and Malir Prisons. “They include both convicted and under-trial prisoners, who have enough resources to pay the prison authorities and people at these public and private health facilities,” an official of the Sindh Home Department told The News on condition of anonymity.
The News has so far been able to identify five private primary and tertiary-care health facilities in different areas of the city where convicted and under-trial prisoners were being provided luxurious conditions until they were abruptly shifted back to their cells after it emerged that Shahrukh Jatoi, the convict in Shahzaib Khan murder case, was enjoying a comfortable life in a private hospital.
According to documents available with The News, five private health facilities including Health Vision Hospital Bahadurabad, Bay View Hospital in DHA, Qamar-ul-Islam in Punjab Colony, Bantva Anis Hospital on Shaheed-e-Millat Road and Mothercare Hospital in FB Area Karachi were currently being used to house the influential prisoners.
“At the same time, three leading public hospitals including Civil Hospital Karachi’s Jail Ward, Special Ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and different wards of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) are also being used by influential and wealthy prisoners to enjoy life away from the jail cells”, the official added.
He maintained that jail officials and relatives of high-profile prisoners always remain in search of public and private health facilities where they could shift their prisoners from the jail, adding that prison officials, including superintendents, medical officers of the jail and hospital officials have made fortunes through this ‘set up’.
“No such prisoner can be shifted to any public and private facility without the connivance of Chief Medical Officer of Central Prison, Superintendent Jail and his frontman Ahsan Mahar, who was a BPS-5 personal in Jail Police. He has now been promoted in BPS-16 for his services to such prisoners”, the official added.
To a query, he said prisoners who are shifted to private health facilities are supposed to bear the expenses of their treatment, so only the wealthy and influential prisoners manage to take refuge at private health facilities.
Prison Department officials said Muhammad Dilawar, Kishore Kumar, Salman Abro, Muhammad Yaqoob and Hameedullah were among many other Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) who were living in public and private hospitals for months when they were abruptly discharged and shifted back to hospital on Monday last.
Similarly, Shahrukh Jatoi, Ahmed Saeed alias Bharam, Khadim Hussain, Meer Muhammad, Adnan Naseem and Naeem Akhtar were some of the convicted prisoners, who were provided shelter at these public and private health facilities in the city, they added.
On the other hand, Sindh health department officials said they had nothing to do with the issue, saying a decision to shift prisoners to hospitals is taken by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the jail and the jail superintendents jointly or in consultation with their superiors.
“Jail authorities are supposed to send prisoners to CHK, NICVD or the JPMC’s emergency wards if they need any urgent treatment. If they need any long-term treatment, the Sindh Home Department writes to health department for constitution of a medical board, which recommends the treatment depending on the nature of the disease or declares the prisoner fit to continue his sentence,” he added.