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Alarm over rise in ‘natural deaths’ of inmates in Karachi jail

Fishermen from India stand detained in the lockup of a Karachi police station April 14, 2010. Pakistani maritime authorities have arrested 17 Indian fishermen and seized three boats for illegally venturing into Pakistan's territorial waters, a security official said on Wednesday, local media reported. REUTERS/Athar Hussain (PAKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS)

Karachi [Pakistan]: Judicial authorities and provincial drug inspectors took samples of 26 ‘suspected drugs and medicines’ at the Karachi central jail’s health facility on Friday following a recent wave of “natural deaths” of inmates at the prison.

According to sources, seven prisoners suffering from various diseases have died in the prison over the past six weeks, reports the Dawn.

However, prison officials maintained that it was a routine visit by Additional District and Sessions Judge (Malir) Shafi Mohammad Pirzada, but conceded that the authorities did not usually collect medicine samples.

“Their visit…is a routine practice that we arrange every month. There [has been] an increase in the number of natural deaths in recent days and it should be clear if this is occurring due to poor quality of medicine,” IG prisons Nusrat Mangan said.

The rise in deaths of inmates, he said, occurred during the recent cold wave. However, it was better if the medicines given to prisoners were analysed, he said.

The sources said that the judge and the drug inspector had visited the jail following complaints from under-trial prisoners, who had alleged that they were being given substandard and unregistered medicines at the prison’s hospital. (ANI)