Reminiscences of life in Jehlum Prison-IV


Reminiscences of life in Jehlum Prison-IV
Prof. Eice Muhammad FCPS
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From Kot-Lakhpat Jail, I was taken to District Jehlum Jail at night and presented before the Jail Superintendent (JS) in the morning. After few days in a separate C-Class cell, I was shifted to a cemented block having six separate cells (called B-Class cells). Being a graduate and tax- payer, I was given this cell. In the cell, a cot was provided and toilet was inside the room and one could defecate and urinate inside the cell. A bucket, a plastic mug was provided & a water point was also present in the room which was of 04 feet and six feet dimensions.

Interesting Episode
on arrival

After wearing the prisoner’s dress, I lined up to appear before the JS. One prisoner who was also standing there came towards me and began to embrace me. I got perturbed and I asked him who are you. He told me that he is old prisoner of this jail & told me that he knows my name and named a doctor of Lahore who was his relative. However, I separated myself from him and wondered why he behaved like that. On asking from other prisoners, I was told that this prisoner is in jail for terrorist crime.

Prof. Eice Mohammad

A month later, a jail warden came to my cell and told me that there are books in jail library and I may get books to read. When I came to jail, there was no one there. Suddenly, same prisoner came in front of me and tried to talk to me. I almost ran out of library room and was extremely upset. I understood that authorities want to link me with some terrorists and charge me in some crime and keep me in jail for a long time. As this was a serious incident, I reported this incident to the JS and also wrote a letter to the Secretary Health Punjab narrating this incident and expressing my concern on this happening.

Another serious
incident in the Jail

One day a prisoner was sent to me that he will help in preparing my meals and of other inmates of this barrack. He had arrived a day earlier and was from army. I do not know what his offence was. He again immediately struck a note of familiarity with me and mentioned name of my elder brother and told that he himself and his family have been getting treatment from my elder brother who was a TABIB.

In this prison, I used to be given Rs. 02 and fifty paisa daily so that I may purchase anything for personal use. With this money I purchased soap, tooth brush, and tooth paste and sunlight soap for washing my clothes. I started to do some exercise in the morning. As a result, muscles of my neck became stiff and painful. I asked this helper prisoner (Mushaqqti) to press my neck muscles. He, once told me that he was boxer in the army. He massaged my neck muscles with great force and also put his fingers in the supraclavicular fossae and began to squeeze the tissues very hard. I told him not to press hard as it was painful. Next day he did the same and specially squeezed in the fossae as mentioned above.

On third day when I started exercise, I found that my left hand has become blue and swollen. Being a doctor, I immediately realized that he has crushed my left sub-clavian artery and vein. I also noted that if I laughed, automatic yawning will start. Obviously this was an attempt to kill me. I requested the JS to call some doctor to examine. Medical Specialist from DHQ Hospital, Jehlum Dr. Muhammad Sabir came to examine me in jail. He agreed with my diagnosis and prescribed.

  1. Tab: Persantin 100mg. 1 tab, TDS after meals. (Dipyridamole)
  2. Tab: Dispirin 1 tab, TDS after meals

The cyanosis and swelling decreased progressively but whenever, I lowered the left arm it used to become blue and swollen.

Days passed slowly, in the Jail. One feels as if the time has slowed down. On awakening in the morning after few hours when I used to look on the watch, it used be only 7 AM. While it was felt that many hours have passed. In the jail, I was asked by the JS to examine patients and advise the treatment to the sick prisoners. One night, I was awakened and asked to examine a prisoner who had developed pain and swelling of abdomen. On examination, it appeared he had obstructive signs. It was necessary to pass nasogastric tube but it was not available in Jail. I got hold of an intravenous drip set which was present in jail dispensary. I cut it to the suitable size and tried to pass it in his stomach. Fortunately it went through & large amount of gas came out. On aspiration about 200ml, fluid was aspirated through this tube. Patient became comfortable and settled.

A Jail warden was diabetic and his glucose level was very high. He was put on Regular Insulin and his glucose level came in normal limits.

During the stay in Jehlum and later in this Rawalpindi Jail, I went through the TAFHIMUL-QURAN completely and also read Tafsir by Imam IBN-i-Kaseer and many other books on Islam and History. This gave me a deep insight into the message of Quran and I realized that Holy Quran wants that all humans should be example of finest and affable qualities and have sweet and merciful attitude toward other human beings.

My left arm was not getting well and I requested the JS to get me examined by some vascular Surgeon. A doctor (Orthopaedic Surgeon) came from Lahore and examined me. After a week or so I was transferred to Rawalpindi Jail where some vascular surgeon will examine me. This was the same Jail where I was kept on my first arrest one year ago. SIn Jehlum, many doctors of Jehlum came to see me in jail and some brought eatables and dry fruit for me for which I always remained grateful to them. This gave me strength to face hardship of Jail. Twice the family members also came to see me which gave great solace to me.

Strange Social life
in Jehlum Prison

I want to mention that prisoners celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day, Eid Days and collectively perform Friday prayers. I also took part in Independence Day function in Jehlum Jail and made a speech in which I implored the prisoners to be good citizens, abide by jail discipline and try to go to their homes as early as possible.

Similarly on each Thursday some prisoners used to sing Qawwali in a very melodious voice and I used to listen it by standing outside their barrack. In district Jail Jehlum, the cells for prisoners on death row were just inside the main gate of jail. One day a prisoner fell ill there. I was asked to see him. He had pain in abdomen. He was in chains and two or three such prisoners were in a very small cell. They had to defecate and urinate in the cell. What struck me was that the prisoner already knew that he is going to be hanged sooner and later and he appeared half dead. These prisoners were brought out of their cell for ½ hour in the morning and ½ hour in the evening accompanied by armed Jail wardens. These cells and all other barracks used to be closed at 5 PM. Once some prisoners were few minutes late to enter their barracks and immediate alert was sounded in the jail. Any prisoner who will commit some offence in jail was mercilessly thrashed, chained and put in some cell in a desolate area of the jail. Such scenes were very agonizing to watch.

Friday prayer used to be regularly held in the prison. Most of the prisoners used to come except those on death row or some dangerous prisoners. According to some religious condition gate of the Jail used to remain open during the Friday prayer, but the gate used to be heavily guarded lest some prisoners try to escape. During one such prayer interval one can meet other prisoners. One day, I was introduced to some prisoners. The jail warden (constable) introduced them like this.

a. This is Mr. one header b. This is Mr. two header c. This is Mr. three header d. this is Mr. four header. I was perplexed on this introduction and asked what does these terms mean. Warden told me that this means that each one has murdered one, two, three and four persons and have either been convicted or are facing murder trial.

b. In this jail one young boy and his elder brother were under trial prisoners. The boy told me that they used to rob motor cyclists or cars. On one such occasion, we looted a large amount of money from a car passenger. He told that I asked my elder brother to let him go as we have got large amount of money from him. But the elder brother did not agree and pinning the unfortunate car owner against a tree stabled him with a dagger again and again, killing him there and then. This is how I spent my time among strange human beings, but from such stories, I learnt a lot about human behaviour and reasons behind the crimes.

There is also war of hegemony in C-class barracks. Some prisoners grow lot of influence and status among prisoners. This is mainly out of fear of their crimes background and how much money they can pay to jail wardens or some jail official. In the jail the duty, in jail kitchen is the toughest duty. About 12—15 prisoners have to prepare Rotis, vegetables or other thing round the clock. If bread is undercooked or is overcooked in both ways, the prisoner is thrashed there and some prisoners become neurotic under mental and physical stress.

(To be continued)