Jammu jail search yields SIM cards, iron rods

Live Punjab News Service

Jammu -- It was all quiet at the Kot Bhalwal jail here Monday with police launching a massive cleanup exercise, seizing two SIM cards, iron rods and finding heaps of stones, a day after violent clashes with militant inmates that lasted for seven hours.

The searches were after police regained control of the Kot Bhalwal prison here following seven-hour clashes Sunday with 300 prisoners. Thirty-six people, including 15 policemen, were injured in the clashes marked by firing in the air, bursting of teargas shells and baton-charge.

Militants had taken position on the rooftops of their barracks to protest against the shifting of some militants, including three Pakistanis and one Afghan, to another lock-up.

Inspector General of Police, Jammu zone, S.P. Vaid, who supervised the operation against the militants Sunday, said mostly foreign mercenaries were involved in the clash.

"They terrorised the inmates and even tried to bully the jail authorities," he said.

The authorities had requisitioned the help of Jammu and Kashmir police after the situation within the jail went out of their control.

Militants had equipped themselves with LPG cylinders and iron rods, which they extracted by breaking down the concrete pillars of an inner boundary wall. At least 10 of the 19 barracks were ransacked.

"It is all quiet now. We have recovered two SIM cards. Some SIM cards may have been destroyed," Vaid told IANS. He added that all iron rods had been "seized".

"Inside the jail premises, the militants ransacked barracks. It was quite a shocking scene inside the premises," he said.

"The searches will continue till we are satisfied that we have seized all incriminating things," Vaid said. He, however, said that no explosives were found during the nightlong searches.

Even the recovery of SIM cards is indicative of a major security breach, especially after mobile phones were strictly banned. The security guards of the jail had recovered two SIM cards about two months ago.

Director General of Prisons M.K. Mohanty, who has admitted that a certain amount of laxity could have led to the clashes, may be shifted from his current position, say government sources.

Sheikh Rashid, a jail superintendent now under suspension, had alleged that there were "many wrong things happening in the jail". He had levelled serious corruption charges against jail officers and inmates.

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