Second time Life in Rawalpindi Prison-V


Second time Life in Rawalpindi Prison-V
(Hanging of Mr. Z.A. Bhutto)
Prof. Eice Muhammad FCPS
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I was brought to Rawalpindi Jail in a police van and reached at night. Because I was already given B-class in jail in Jehlum, arrangement for my stay had been done in the same barrack where I had spent jail in 1980 with ten other inmates. The police van was arranged with the effort of JS of Jehlum who was happy with my conduct in the jail especially treating two emergencies in the jail at night.

A good thing for me in Rawalpindi Jail was that a Deputy Superintendent of jail was posted here from District Jail Jehlum. He obviously knew me and treated me with respect. One Mr. Naqvi was JS. A good natured person. After some years, I read in the newspaper that he was gunned down in sectarian killing while he was on morning walk.

Prof. Eice Mohammad

Arrangement was made for my examination in CMH, Rawalpindi. I was not taken to public teaching hospital for fear of doctors reaction on seeing me in police custody. I was examined by some cardiovascular surgeon who advised that medical treatment should continue. By that time, volume of left radial artery had become low as compared to right artery and collaterals had developed on left anterior chest wall with reversal of flow.

For many years later, whenever I lowered my left arm for some time, the arm would swell and mild cyanosis would also develop in left hand. But I am grateful to Allah Almighty that I survived a potential attempt to kill me. Rest of the prison term was spent in this jail in Rawalpindi. During this time many interesting anecdotes and tales about this jail came to my knowledge.

1. One day I was told that a prisoner is going to be hanged in the early hours of the morning. The gallows area (hanging area) was very near to my barrack. All inmates of the barrack awoke at about 4 AM. Soon after I listened noise of boots outside the barrack and a very frail shivering voice of the condemned prisoner raising slogan of “Allah Akbar” was heard, but there was no force in that voice. After about 45 minutes the sound of returning persons carrying the dead body of the hanged person was heard. For next few days a strange gloomy silence pervaded the prison.
2. One day, the fellow prisoners told me of the prison area where Mr. Bhutto was kept during his trial and before his hanging.
3. For reason still not known to me, I was shifted to an isolated earthen cell where prisoners on death row are kept. But after two days, I was again shifted to the barrack where I was already staying.

The night when Mr. Bhutto was hanged in this Rawalpindi Jail
One prisoner narrated the story like this. Early in the morning some persons went into the underground cell where Mr. Bhutto was kept. One version was that in addition to the JS, there were persons from some sensitive departments also there. The Medical Superintendent (MS) of District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Dr. Ikram-ul-Haq was to attend the hanging of Mr. Bhutto, but disappeared as he did not want to be party to this history making moment. Some other doctor was hurriedly brought in. I was told that one official told Mr. Bhutto to prepare as he is to be hanged. There was some altercation between Mr. Bhutto and Officials. It was alleged by the prisoner that Mr. Bhutto could not walk to the gallows because he had become very frail and that he was carried on a stretcher to the gallows where he was hanged.

4. A strange visitor
One day, I was called to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of jail. When I reached the office, I found a person sitting with him. The Deputy introduced that he is a retired army officer and nowadays he is practicing law Rawalpindi. On closely watching him, I remembered that this visitor once remained under my treatment in DHQ Hospital Faisal Abad where I was working as Medical Specialist in 1974-1975. He was a prisoner in Faisal Abad Jail and sent to the hospital for treatment from Jail. He had remained under my treatment for about two months in DHQ hospital. The Deputy asked me Doctor, do you recognize him. I decided not to recognize him as I did not know the reason of his visit. On this the visitor looked surprised.
5. The above mentioned Deputy was earlier posted in District Jail Jehlum from where he was transferred to the Rawalpindi Jail. While I was also in Jehlum Jail, this Deputy was diagnosed to have Hypothyroidism and he wanted leave for rest. For this, he needed a medical certificate. He requested me to help him. After great hesitation, I wrote a letter to a Dr. Friend in Islam Abad Poly Clinic, Islam Abad, requesting him to help the deputy. That friend issued him a certificate of his disease and advised one month rest to him. It was a valid certificate of real illness. Obviously the Deputy was very happy on this relief.
6. Late Prof. of Cardiac Surgery, Dr. Latif Cheema also visited me in jail in Rawalpindi to examine the problem of my left arm. He assured me that there is no need of surgery and medical treatment should continue.
7. In this Jail, one day I was taken to a room where I was formally registered as a prisoner where my thumb impression was taken and allotted a prisoner number.
8. Moment of my release:
I had spent about nine months in prison that my father in law applied for my release in accordance with jail rules invoking rule of good conduct in jail by prisoner. A prisoner, whose conduct in Jail is good, is entitled automatic remission in prison term of 3—4 days per month. As I did not break any jail rules, I earned, cumulative relief of about 2.5 months, but I was still 15 days short. On this, the Jail Superintendent Mr. Naqvi, using his powers gave me relief of 15 days and I was asked to get out of Jail as soon as possible.
I left the jail and went to the home of a relative in Rawalpindi. My in laws also arrived to take me to Lahore. While travelling back to Lahore, I wanted to thank the Deputy Superintendent of Jail and bought sweets for him. When he saw me at the door of his residence, he asked me to disappear somewhere and he told that as news of my release was conveyed to General Jilani, then Governor and Martial Law. Administrator of Punjab, he got furious and asked from concerned authorities that why Dr. Eice was released from jail without his permission. The Deputy told me you may be re-arrested on no reason.

Ways of Allah Almighty are strange and I got release from jail. There were big challenges before me to settle my family, have a rented house for the family and to have means of income and most important how to fight for reinstatement in service. Insha Allah, I will narrate that also that how I fought and struggled for my re-instatement in service over next 08 years and how I passed these 08 years of my life. I am grateful to Allah Almighty for his kindness during these difficult times.