LAHORE - SAJID ZIA/ARSHAD BHATTI - Punjab Minister for Prisons Ch Abdul Waheed has said that construction of 12 new jails is in the final phase and as many as, 26,700 prisoners have been lodged over the capacity in various jails across the province, he added.

During the question hour in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, the minister said that his ministry would take charge of four new jails in next two months while the rest would soon be ready to house prisoners.

The House chaired by Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, was informed by the minister that a summary has been sent to the chief minister, seeking an approval for setting up a complex near Manawan to lodge separately the women, juvenile prisoners and convicted in heinous crime.

In Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore, jail rooms have been provided, facilitating the prisoners to spend time with their family members four days a week. He said such rooms are also being allocated in district jails throughout the province.

To a question, the minister said that food costing Rs70 per day is being provided to every prisoner. As to the complaints about jails, he said that DIG instead of jail superintendent has been assigned to address the complaints. He claimed that 50 per cent improvement has made in jail conditions during the last three months.

To another question, Ch Abdul Waheed said that Rs590 million have been allocated this year as compared to the last year’s Rs340 million, to be used to purchase equipment for jail. He said that 800 recruitments would be made for the new jails and half of them would the retired army men and experts of operating sophisticated weapons.

The minister further told the House that more than 800 women are imprisoned; over 400 in Multan where a separate jail has been set up for them. He said that as many as 92 female prisoners have opted to keep their kids with them and the government is providing them facility of food, education and other necessities.

To another question, the minister disclosed that 5,000 cell phones were recovered from prisoners for which not only disciplinary action has been taken against the jail staff but cases have also been registered against them.

The Punjab Assembly on the eighth day of its 5th session also carried five resolutions. JI MPA Dr Wasim Akhtar presented a resolution to condemn the death warrants issued on JI leader Abdul Qadir Mullah by a Bangladeshi court.

He said that the Bangladeshi government took a vindictive action against the rival political leaders on which the international organisations have expressed their concerns. In the resolution, the federal government was asked to raise the issue at the United Nations forum.

Another resolution presented by the ruling party’s MPA Kanwal Nauman paid huge tributes to late South African president, Nelson Mandela.

The resolution glorified the bravery and steadfastness of Mandela against the racialism, during the course of which he also suffered 27-year imprisonment.

The Punjab Assembly also suggested constructing a glorious shrine on the grave of Rai Abdullah Bhatti aka Dulla Bhatti, a great warrior and hero of Punjab soil. On the resolution presented by Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, the government was asked to remove encroachments on the way to shrine of Dulla Bhatti, situated in Miani Sahib Graveyard, in order to ease the visitors.

The assembly also passed a resolution to enhance job quota of special people up to five percent.