Pakistani police rescued 53 students including children as young as seven years, chained from a warren of rooms in a madrassa (seminary) during a raid in Karachi. The students said they were beaten up mercilessly, kept in chains, deprived of food and tortured. The students were warned that any one attempting to escape would be severely punished, also alleged indoctrination programmes on jihad.
Mr Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labour strongly condemning the situation said “Global March condemns the inhuman and brutal treatment to the students and children, and demands the immediate closure of the madrassa. ”
At least 15,148 madrassas in Pakistan educate more than two million students, i.e., around five per cent of the 34 million children in formal education - according to official statistics, but there are thousands more that are unregistered and unregulated. For the poor majority in Pakistan, the madrassas are the only means of education available and affordable.
However, the situation suggests that “all’s not right with the system” said Mr Satyarthi. “In spite of the Pakistani education ministry’s efforts to modernise the curriculum and pedagogy in Madrassa, this incident where boys and men were dehumanised and brutalised in the name of treatment and education, tells that all’s not right with the system. This incident must serve as a beacon for the responsible departments to introspect, inquire and prosecute the offenders.”
“There is no religion on earth that allows cruelty, and there is no therapy for de-addiction that permits torture,” said Mr Satyarthi. These incidents are violations of the basic tenants of human rights and dignity, including the Pakistani legislations on protection of human and child rights.
The madrassa is located in an area from where many Taliban activists have been arrested in the past, suggesting that this incident can not be looked in isolation.