Karachi: In yet another pointer to the growing threat of terror elements active in Pakistan, more than 50 children and youth were found chained inside an underground dungeon at an Islamic seminary in Karachi city.
As per reports, they were being trained for terror activities with the active involvement of the Taliban.
Among those rescued are children aged 12 years with the majority being in their early twenties. Most of them are of Pakhtun ethnicity.
They were found chained inside a dungeon during a police raid at the Madrassa al Arabia al Uloom and Jamia Masjid Zakariya Farid Goth in Sohrab Goth area of the port city.
As per media reports, the children rejoiced on seeing the police and recounted their tales of horror. Some of them said that they were beaten frequently and also hung from the ceiling upside down as a form of punishment.
While some others said that they had seen the Taliban in the seminary and that around 10 inmates have mysteriously disappeared in the past seven months.
Some Islamic schools in Pakistan are accused of training militants and supporting violent extremist groups, with some dispatching fighters to neighbouring Afghanistan.
Especially, the seminaries in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have been under the scanner for promoting militancy in the syllabi. Taliban chief Mullah Umar is also believed to have been trained in the seminary of Moulana Sami-ul-Haq in Akora Khattak near Peshawar.
Importantly, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said that seminaries "belonging to a particular school of thought" were promoting militancy in the country.
The administrator of the horror seminary in Karachi, Mufti Dawood, fled during the raid but his associate Qari Muhammad Usman and two others were apprehended from the site.
“The madrassa officials claim that they had chained those students because they were drug addicts and they wanted to rehabilitate them and make them better Muslims,” a police official was quoted as saying by a Pakistani daily.
“Every possibility including its involvement in militancy will be investigated upon,” said Sharfuddin Memon, a spokesman for the home department of Sindh province said.
Memon added that the incident highlighted the brutality in society.
“It showed the brutalised aspect of our society and our police’s effort was aimed at eradicating that element,” he said.
As per another report, there are at least 15,000 seminaries in Pakistan with more than two million students.