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LAHORE: Jails are overcrowded in Punjab as the existing capacity of 45,210 has increased to 51,761, leaving the administrations in a fix, said a report of the Punjab prisons for the month of September, 2020.

Officials both in the Punjab prisons and the Punjab police have agreed that the overcrowding of jails suggests a rise in criminal activities of all types across the province. They were of the opinion that the report also indicates poor performance of the Punjab police to control crime.

The officials, seeking anonymity, blamed the rapid change in the police high command one after another by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for the high crime rate in the province. They said none of the five outgoing Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) were in a position to implement their strategy to control the surging crime rate. Also, they expressed, the incumbent Punjab IG Inam Ghani seems helpless in implementing his own strategies, especially in Lahore, due to backing of the government to the "controversial" CCPO Umer Sheikh, who does not listen to any senior.

According to the crime-wise monthly population reports of inmates obtained by Business Recorder, the Punjab prisons are currently accommodating 51,761 prisoners out of its total capacity of 45,210. Out of the total, 50,074 are adult males while 951 are adult females followed by 733 juvenile males and three juvenile females.

The report says that the Punjab prisons department, at present, is housing 17,090 individuals, including 341 females, under the category of section-302 of the PPC. Of them, 206 male and one female is condemned prisoner while 2,635 males and 19 females are unconfirmed condemned prisoners (UCCPs). The UCCPs are known as the prisoners whose appeals are pending before courts.

Similarly, the Punjab prisons department is flooded with 4,546 dacoits/robbers (36 of them are females) followed by 9,462 individuals (690 are females) under various sections of control of narcotics substance act, 1997, and 1,816 individuals (nine females) are in jails for attempted murders.

Interestingly, 752 people (two females) are serving jail terms under section-7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, but not a single person is convicted or under trial under the category of "attacking armed forces of Pakistan", according to the report. Similarly, there is not a single person as well in the Punjab prisons convicted under the anti-smuggling act, an offence which is being considered as one of the most damaging to the economy.

Under the blasphemy charges, the prison department is currently having 251 people. Of them, three male (adults) were declared condemned prisoners, nine male (adults) are UCCPs while 39 male (adults) have been convicted. However, 198 adult males, one adult female and one juvenile are under-trial prisoners, according to the report.

After the category of drug peddlers, the third biggest figure of convicted and under-trial inmates is related to theft cases, the report says, adding that 2,336 people are currently in jails and of them 112 are juveniles including male and females.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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