Prisons across the country ordered to form strike forces, and keep a close watch on militants, top terrorists
Authorities of all prisons in the country have been put on a state of alert following a threat by militant outfits to spring their activists from jail.
Inspector General (Prisons) Brig Gen AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha sent out letters to all the prisons concerned, containing 18 specific instructions, AIG Muhammad Monzur Hossain of the prison authority told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
The order to ratchet up security measures in jails comes as a militant group recently threatened the Lalmonirhat administration and prison authorities to have their comrades break out of prison, said AIG Hossain.
The instructions by the IG (Prisons) include forming special strike forces and keeping a close watch on the movement of all inmates, especially members and leaders of militants’ outfits, notorious criminals and detainees in sensitive cases.
Guards posted at the entrance have been ordered to wear bullet-proof vests, helmets and to use metal detectors to check arrivals, says the letter by the prisons chief.
Armed sentries must be deployed on duty, and the security of weapons and arsenals must be ensured, it added.
No vehicles, other than the official ones for prisons, can be allowed inside the premises. The jail authorities have been told to install security cameras at the entrance.
Prisons across the country have also been ordered to conduct emergency drills by guards to ensure a quick response in case the facilities come under attack.
The IG also directed the police to keep in touch with jail authorities in the areas where militants are lodged.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, while speaking at a press conference at his office in the secretariat in Dhaka on Tuesday, said that security at the country’s prisons has been tightened following the recent incident of a prisoner escaping from Kashimpur Jail 2 in Gazipur.
“This move aims to secure our prisons. You [the media] all know that an inmate recently escaped from one of our prisons and it was possible due to the weakness of the prison guards.
“This is why we have strengthened the security of our prisons so that such incidents do not recur. But this does not mean that we have scaled up the number of guards. It rather means that those responsible will perform their duties properly,” he added.
When asked about the reported militant threat in a letter sent to the Lalmonirhat DC, he said: “We receive such kinds of letters and messages regularly.
“The letter that was received by the Lalmonirhat DC has been sent to the intelligence department. Necessary steps will be taken upon an observation of it.”
The threatening letter
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Lalmonirhat Deputy Commissioner Md Abu Zafor said that he did receive a letter regarding the issue a week ago.
Zafor, quoting the letter reportedly sent by militants, said: “In the letter, the militants said that they would spring their comrades from jail and nobody would be able to stop them.”
Then on Saturday, he got a phone call from an unknown number holding out the threat that the jailbreak would happen in Lalmonirhat and no one would be able to prevent it.
When asked about the identity of the caller and the number used to make the threat, the deputy commissioner said: “We have provided all the evidence to the investigation team.
“I cannot say anything more as this is a sensitive issue.”
Dhaka Tribune got a copy of the letter reportedly containing the threat but could not confirm its authenticity.
On the envelope of the letter, sent by a person named Imran Khan of Singair union in Manikganj to the jail super of Lalmonirhat district jail, was written: “Very urgent and confidential.”
And the letter read: “We will free our comrades from the district jail. You can try with all your strength but it will all go in vain.
“We will free our brothers even if it requires a fierce attack.”
Despite repeated attempts, Jail Super of Lalmonirhat Jail Kishore Kumar Nag declined to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, a general diary (GD) was filed with Lalmonirhat police station over the matter on Saturday.
The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) of Bangladesh Police is investigating the issue.
According to sources, as of Monday, a total of 456 inmates were in Lalmonirhat district prison.
Of them, 20 are suspected members of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Allah’r Dal, and JMB's Sarwar-Tamim group.
Besides, the jail houses six more suspected militants who are currently out on bail.
These alleged militants were arrested by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 13.
In 2014, radicals snatched away three of their comrades from a prison van on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in a daring raid committed in broad daylight.
In 2017, miscreants, in a failed attempt, attacked the prison van carrying Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) leader Mufti Abdul Hannan and his associates near Gazipur to free them.
Our Lalmonirhat correspondent Moazzem Hossain also contributed to this copy