Accomplices get convict freed from hospital

KARACHI, March 11: Two armed motorcyclists got a convict facing death penalty freed after attacking police officials guarding him outside the Civil Hospital Karachi on Monday, officials said.

The attackers faced no resistance from police and executed their job in a calm, professional manner in one of the busiest districts of the city in broad daylight.

According to hospital staff and eyewitnesses, the gunmen took barely two to three minutes to finish the job and escaped with their associate. They said that people in and outside the CHK witnessed the attack in a state of shock and fear and rushed to help shift the injured policemen to the casualty unit after the attackers disappeared.

“The escaped man has been identified as Qayyum Baloch who was convicted by a local court for committing murder during robbery in 2001 under Section 396 (dacoity with murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code,” said an official at the Risala police station.

“He was brought to the jail ward of the Civil Hospital for some treatment on the recommendations of central prison doctors and was waiting for his turn when the four policemen led by an assistant sub-inspector brought him outside in handcuffs,” he said.

The police were unable to explain why the policemen brought the convict outside. As they were busy chatting with one another, two men on a motorcycle appeared from somewhere and opened fire on the policemen.

“ASI Abdul Khaliq, 42, and constables Shoaib Akhtar, Dilawar Hussain and Tariq Khan suffered multiple shots and fell down, giving the attackers sufficient time to take along their comrade without facing any resistance,” said the official.

The incident drew serious criticism from police authorities, who blamed the jail officials for handling such a ‘hardened and convicted criminal in so casual a manner’. They also vowed to charge the jail officials as suspects in an FIR about the escape which would be lodged after the wounded policemen recovered.

“It’s not professionalism. The way jail officials handled the convict’s security,” said DIG-South Shahid Hayat. “Under the set rules, they should have brought the convict in an APC (armoured personnel carrier), which is escorted by two Mohafiz police mobiles.

“But he was brought to the hospital by only four policemen. Similarly, the area DSP and SHO were not informed before the prisoner’s movement, which is an SOP (standard operating procedure) while transporting such criminals from one place to another,” he said.

The DIG suspected the entire episode was ‘pre-planned’ with some level of connivance by the ‘officials’ as the illness for which the convict was recommended to be treated at the Civil Hospital was still not clear.

“We are moving ahead with investigations and will definitely nominate as accused the policemen who were handling his security in so causal a manner. Similarly, there are serious question marks over the entire process which led to the convict’s escape,” said DIG Hayat.

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