December 14, 2011

Pakistan young students “educationally” controlled by chains in Islamic seminary

Pakistani police have rescued more than 50 young students from a religious school, an Islamic seminary, in Karachi, including drug addicts, who had been “educationally” tortured, chained, and hooked in the basement of a madrassa for unreasonable reasons. .
Police involved in the Monday night rescue, which reportedly came after a tip-off, said an administrator at the seminary was arrested during the raid.
It wasn't immediately clear why the students, some as young as 12 and some in their 40s, were subjected to such treatment. But police, who conducted the raid late Monday after a tip from neighbors, told local news media that some of the students were drug addicts sent there by parents or other relatives unaware of the horrible conditions.
Azmat Ullah, a 17-year-old student, said his father sent him there because he suffered "fits" and could be violent.
"My father took me to several spiritual healers who said I was a victim of black magic," he told the AFP. "Three months ago, I was admitted here."
Former students including an eight-year-old say they were regularly beaten at the school, which was equipped with chains, hooks and a warren of basement rooms. The head of an education federation called it a "torture cell".
Former students including an eight-year-old told the AFP news agency that they were regularly beaten at the school, which was equipped with chains, hooks and a warren of basement rooms.
Police said 21 teenagers were among those found during the raid.
Naeem said officers had ruled out any possibility that the seminary had links with militant groups, which are known to use madrassas for recruitment.
Hanif Jullandhri, head of a federation of Pakistani madrassas, told Express television that the premises was not registered.
"We strongly condemn this and urge the government to take the harshest possible action against its owners. The government should investigate how such torture cells are established and operated," he said.
Madrassas, which provide the poorest families with the only education they can afford, are not tightly regulated in Pakistan and have served as recruitment grounds for the Taliban and other al-Qaeda-linked terror groups.
Police said the students were chained up because they were drug addicts whom the madrassa "wanted to rehabilitate", but many details remain unclear.
At least 15,148 seminaries in Pakistan educate more than two million students - around five per cent of the 34 million children in formal education - according to official statistics.
But officials suspect thousands more go unregistered, providing sons of Pakistan's poverty-stricken majority with the only education they can afford.

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