Boys freed from madrassa that held them prisoner in chains

Karachi police free dozens of students after tip-off leads to raid on religious seminary

Police in Karachi were confronted by the pitiful sight of dozens of men and boys – many of them in chains – confined as prisoners in a basement when they raided a religious seminary in the city. A number of them were drug addicts, sent to the madrassa by relatives in the hope they could be cured and rehabilitated.

Officers descended on the Zakariya madrassa, located on the outskirts of Pakistan's commercial capital, after receiving a tip. They said some of the 54 men and boys they discovered, some of them very young, showed signs of torture and abuse.

At least one cleric from the institution was held during the raid on Monday night, but police are looking for other members of staff.

"These people were not taken to the madrassa force- fully. In fact the parents of many of them had themselves got their children admitted there," a senior police official, Rao Anwar, told Reuters. "Some of them are drug addicts, and others involved in other crimes, and they were tortured and kept in chains so that they did not run away."

While police said they were investigating whether there was any militant link to the seminary, reports suggested its main purpose was for trying to treat addiction to heroin and other drugs. Several inmates appeared on local television to explain that they had been regularly beaten by the staff. Many of the so-called students had been shackled together. Apparently one room alone contained 30 men and boys.

"I have been here for 20 days. They hardly fed me anything and would beat me up if I did not learn my lessons properly," one young man told reporters, speaking from a nearby police station.

Another individual, identified simply as Abdullah, said he had taken his 35-year-old brother – a drug addict – to the madrassa for rehabilitation.

"The chains are not a problem. They are needed because without them heroin addicts run away," he said. Others complained that they had paid the equivalent of £100 for the madrassa to take their relatives and did not want to have to deal with them.

One man said: "I brought my grown-up son here because he is a drug addict and he was making my life miserable. I don't want to take him back."

There are thousands of seminaries located across Pakistan, offering a basic, Islamic education to boys whose families are too poor to send them to school. Tuition, and sometimes lodging, is given freely. While the authorities from time to time make noises about licensing and regulating the institutions, little has been done. Critics claim the seminaries do nothing to prepare the boys for the modern world and are often a source of conservative and even extreme Islamic education.

Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said that the police had been ordered to investigate whether the seminary had any link to the Taliban.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments