University professor dies in NAB chains

Photo of handcuffed body go viral on social media, Autopsy to reveal cause of death

LAHORE - A university professor arrested by anti-graft staffers two months ago on allegations of corruption died in a high-security prison in Lahore on Friday.

A spokesman for the National Accountability Bureau claimed that Professor Mian Javed Ahmad, who was in his late 50s, died because of heart attack. However, investigations are underway to ascertain the cause of death.

Professor Javed Ahmad, the former Director of the University of Sargodha (Lahore campus), was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau in mid-October. Professor Ahmad was grilled by the NAB investigators for weeks in connection with a corruption case before he was sent to the Camp Jail on judicial remand.

The NAB spokesman also claimed that when they handed over the professor to jail staff he was quite healthy. “Today, he was shifted to Services Hospital by jail officials due to pain in the heart. We strongly reject the impression that he died in the custody of NAB,” the spokesman said. NAB officials express their “sorrow and grief” over the death, he added.

The spokesman further said the jail officials always ensure medical fitness of the suspect at the time when he is handed over to them. “As usual, the jail officials don’t take any suspect into custody if he is brought there with bad health conditions,” the spokesman said.

Professor Ahmad died in prison just a few weeks after former Punjab University VC Dr Mujahid Kamran described the condition of NAB investigation centres as “torture cells.”

Professor Kamran who was also arrested by NAB in a case related to illegal appointments had claimed in a TV interview that the NAB was involved in torture of suspects. He alleged that a suspect (Haji Nadim) in the Paragon Housing case was tortured before his family members.

According to Professor Kamran, NAB had fixed cameras even in the washrooms. Dr Kamran also claimed that he was not allowed to meet with his family members and it forced him to sleep on floor in his cell.

The NAB spokesman also rejected social media reports suggesting that the professor was tortured to death. Following the death, some photos went viral on the social networking sites showing chained Professor Ahmad lying dead on a stretcher.

It was not clear yet why the officials did not remove handcuffs if they had shifted Professor Ahmad to the hospital for medical treatment.

In October, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took a suo motu notice of producing Punjab University’s former vice chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran before a NAB court in handcuffs. The chief justice had summoned the Lahore NAB DG in the Supreme Court Lahore Registry and also ordered the Lahore DIG (Operations) to appear before the court.

The top court had taken the notice after many twitter users condemned the authorities for producing seasoned teachers in handcuffs before a court.

The death of Professor Ahmad shocked many in the town as people again took to social media to condemn what they called ‘death in custody’.

On the other hand, the jail officials refused to comment on the incident. A senior official, when contacted, said that the jail staff would not comment on this “sensitive” issue. However, he said the police were investigating the incident to ascertain the cause of death. The police shifted the body to the morgue for autopsy.