19 prisoners, including 6 on death row, escape from Rawalakot prison
Ghazi Shahzad, who was under trial, is a member of a banned organization and is wanted by India

at 10:36 pm
Pic of Rawalakot Prison

Muzaffarabad, July 1: In a major security breach in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, 19 inmates, including six on death row, escaped from the Rawalakot prison.

The incident took place around 2:30 pm on Sunday. The prisoners, who had reportedly planned the escape, overpowered the guard at the main gate, using force to gain access.

While police responded, their efforts were limited, resulting in a shootout that left one inmate dead.

Rawalakot is the district and divisional headquarters of Poonch.

The 30-year-old prison located adjacent to the district courts in the heart of the town has been in a dilapidated state for quite some time. Work on a new prison site on the outskirts of town has yet to be properly initiated.

Following the jailbreak, eight prison officials, including the deputy superintendent, were detained for investigation. The PoK government also formed an inquiry committee to probe the incident within a week.

Special home secretary Badar Munir, who happens to be the ex-officio inspector general of prisons, has been removed.

Poonch Commissioner Sardar Waheed Khan and SP Riaz Mughal, speaking to journalists, said a prisoner asked a sentry to move his “lassi” (a yoghurt-based drink) outside his barrack. When the sentry obliged, the prisoner overpowered him, snatched his keys, and opened other barracks from where at least 19 prisoners made their way to the main gate. At that point, a pistol was thrown inside through the roof, which was used to break the lock from the inside. One prisoner was injured during the gunfire, but the others managed to escape, they said.”

Among the escaped prisoners were six death row inmates. The escape was allegedly led by Ghazi Shahzad from PoK’s Sudhnoti district, who had been arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Depart­ment along with three aides from the town of Hajira last year. Booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act, he had not been convicted as of yet.

Later, police across the division were placed on high alert, and all entry and exit points of Poonch were sealed to recapture the prisoners.

According to Aaj news site, Ghazi Shahzad, who was under trial, is a member of a banned organization and is wanted by India. He is believed to have been the mastermind behind the prison break.

Following the incident, authorities have launched a full-scale manhunt for the escaped prisoners, establishing checkpoints throughout the district.

Additionally, a high-risk inmate has been transferred from the District Jail to a more secure location.