The gallows will be constructed at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) second largest jail, Central Prison Haripur, for the first time in 83 years.
Executions at the facility will begin over the next few weeks. “Yes, the construction is well under way and will be complete over the coming weeks,” an official familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune.
The official disclosed an 11-foot-deep and four-foot-wide ditch is almost ready while the structure of the noose is being set up and five new cells are being constructed for black warrant inmates. He added black warrants of two prisoners have already been received and the executions await construction work.
The two conditions
Constructed in 1932 by the British, the prison is spread over 890 kanals. The prison can house around 1,500 inmates but the average number of prisoners at the facility today soars at 1,900.
The land was donated by Bani Begum, a Tareen of Darwesh village. She was a distant relative of former president Ayub Khan and former provincial assembly speaker Habibullah Khan Tareen.
Family legend suggests the land was provided on two conditions—the prison will not be equipped with the gallows and that no woman would be detained at the facility.
Although the agreement was never penned down, elders of the Tareen clan say governments in the past have honoured her word and all executions were instead carried out at Abbottabad District Jail until 2005, when the building succumbed to the devastating earthquake. Later the government imposed a moratorium on executions and the gallows were padlocked all across the country.
One of the conditions was violated when the women’s section was set up in 2005. With the construction of the gallows at the prison, Bani Begum’s second condition will also be violated after it was upheld for 83 years.
The barbaric Army Public School attack in Peshawar led to a suspension of the moratorium on executions as the government announced its intentions to deal a decisive blow to militants.
Central Prison Haripur houses some of the most dangerous criminals of the country and recent jailbreaks in Bannu and DI Khan have given rise to major security concerns. There have been occasions in the past when the government had to shift prisoners to Mansehra and Peshawar following threats of attacks at the prison. The government was particularly in a pickle with Niaz Muhammad, one of the convicts of the Musharraf attack case. His execution was delayed time and again, over security concerns and was finally carried out in Peshawar two weeks ago.
The construction of the gallows at the Central Prison Haripur suggests the government has decided to hang convicts at the facility itself and avoid unnecessary movement of prisoners.
Central Prison Haripur at the moment houses 141 convicted prisoners who have been sentenced to death with mercy petitions of 25 pending with the President’s office. The jail is being manned by additional security personnel and executions are expected to begin any time in the approaching weeks. The jail superintendent was not available for a comment despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.