Bogura Jailbreak: It was a long time coming

Despite such breaches in the past, no action was taken to reinforce the jail security system.

Mostafa Shabuj

Mostafa Shabuj

The Daily Star

-2024-06-28-101011.png

Committees have been tasked with probing lax security, infrastructural weaknesses and the possible involvement of anyone from the prison administration. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

June 28, 2024

DHAKA – In the absence of an outer boundary wall, thieves would often break into the prison guard barracks on the jail premises and steal valuable items, Bogura jail prison guards alleged yesterday.

Despite such breaches in the past, no action was taken to reinforce the jail security system.

Then on Wednesday, a prison break by four death row convicts laid bare the building’s infrastructural weakness and poor internal security.

After the incident, the prisons directorate constituted a three-member probe committee, led by Additional Inspector General (Prisons) Col Sheikh Sujaur Rahman.

The other members are Deputy Inspector General of Prisons Monir Ahmed and Senior Jail Superintendent of Rangpur Central Jail Prashant Kumar Banik.

The committee has been asked to submit an inquiry report within the next five working days.

Meanwhile, the district administration has also formed a six-member committee in this regard.

The committees are tasked with probing lax security, infrastructural weaknesses and the possible involvement of anyone from the prison administration.

They were also asked to make recommendations on how to deter future jailbreaks.

According to the Bogura jail website, the jail building was built in 1883. The main prison is situated on seven acres of land on the banks of the Korotoa river, which is 10 meters east of the prison. There is a perimeter wall, which has public roads on three of its sides.

There is no outer wall surrounding the entire jail premises.

Sources said the jail has the capacity to house 700 prisoners, but as of yesterday, there were 1,700.

This correspondent spoke to five guards and five former inmates now out on bail.

They said the condemned cell that the four death row convicts had escaped from is called the “Jaflong” cell and it has five rooms. Right next to it is the “Padma” ward, which has the perimeter wall attached to it.

The prison guards alleged they have difficulty maintaining security as common people move through the prison area throughout the day due to the public roads being adjacent to it.

They claimed there is no other prison in the country that has roads so close to it and that their living quarters, or barracks, are located along one of the roads.

They further alleged that as there is no outer boundary wall to protect their barracks, thieves would often easily break in and steal their valuables.

About the jail’s infrastructural weakness, Imrul Kayes, additional district magistrate and head of the district administration’s probe committee, told The Daily Star, “The jail is a KPI [key point installation] area. There should be no high rises or public roads within the premises. But in Bogura jail, we found them [public roads and high rises].

“We have included PWD [public works department] and fire service officials in our probe committee to find out all the weaknesses in the infrastructure.”

Col Sujaur Rahman, in this regard, said, “It’s a very old prison… The Jaflong cell is attached to the Padma ward, which is attached to the perimeter wall. However, perimeter walls, according to rules, are supposed to be at least 16-18 feet away from any prison building.

“On the other hand, there is supposed to be an outer boundary wall as well. But this jail has none … We will ask for solutions to these matters in our recommendations.”

One former Bogura jail inmate, on the condition of anonymity, said there are two prison guards stationed in front of each cell every night.

“The Jaflong cell is right next to the main gate, which is manned by two armed guards, while there is another guard posted outside the cell at night… This incident [the jail break] would not have been possible unless a prison official is involved,” he alleged, adding, “It is also impossible to get the tools they used to break out [a screwdriver and an iron-sheet scrap] inside the condemned cell without help from an insider.”

He said, “How is it possible that they made a hole on the ceiling without none of the inmates in the adjacent cell [Padma] knowing it? Surely, one or more prison workers are involved.”

scroll to top