The official said that there were around 40 prisoners inside who were being tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulation
GHALLANAI: It was just past 2pm and I was walking towards the mosque near the agency headquarters jail in Ghallanai, Mohmand Agency when the earth suddenly began shaking violently.
While the earth was still shaking, the jail doors flew open and around five Levies personnel rushed out to save themselves. I could hear the prisoners inside crying out to be saved, the fear apparent in every holler.
When the earth stopped shaking, and I had gathered myself, I walked over to one of the guards and asked him why they did not release the prisoners.
The official said that there were around 40 prisoners inside who were being tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
“I heard their cry, but I can only feel sorry for them as I have no power to free them, even under such circumstances,” the official lamented. “I could not release them even if I wanted to because I do not have keys to their cells.” “As a human being, I have sympathy for them. But being a public servant it is my duty to guard them,” he added.
“When i am running for my own life, how can I then save them?”
As I started walking back from the jail, I met Muhammad Bashir a social worker who recounted a similar story from Kashmir.
Bashir recounted that in 2005, when the Muzaffarabad earthquake struck, a number of prisoners were similarly trapped in a jail. While most of them saw their prison become their tomb, one prisoner survived.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.