Question mark over checks on seminaries
KARACHI, Dec 13: While search was under way for the four men said to have been running a seminary where over 50 children and 14 men were found shackled during the previous night raid, investigators on Tuesday sounded convinced that the seminary was serving as a rehabilitation centre.
The police authorities and religious leaders agreed that a shortage of rehabilitation facilities had allowed an unregulated growth of such seminaries whose number had reached 700 in Karachi alone.
Officials at the Gulshan-i-Maymar police station said they were looking for the four suspects — Mufti Dawood, Qari Abdullah, Qari Qudratullah, Qari Fakharuddin — who were key members of Jamia Masjid Zakriya Kondal, situated near Afghan refugee camp, off the Superhighway.
“We have registered a case (FIR 273/2011) under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 344 (wrongful confinement for 10 or more days), 506-B (punishment for criminal intimidation), 337-1 (Shajjah) and 34 (common intention) against five persons,” said Gulshan-i-Maymar SHO Inspector Ahsanullah Marwat.
“One of the suspects, Muhammad Usman, nominated in the FIR has been arrested. Efforts are being made to arrest the four others, who we believe would have left the city after the raid was highlighted in the media. The children recovered are being handed over to their parents and relatives.”
However, he said none of the parents had so far blamed the seminary administration for detaining their children without their permission.
“They willingly handed over the children to the seminary due to their bad habits or drug addiction.”
He said some recovered men wanted severe action against the seminary for which they made baseless allegations such as the administration was giving military training to seminary students.
Police efforts to trace the seminary and recover the children only after the issue was highlighted in the media indicated the level of competence and interest of the relevant institutions, which had gathered data about the exact number of registered and unregistered seminaries.
A ‘Madaris data collection, analysis, presentation and information system’ prepared by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police in January this year showed that a total of 736 unregistered Madressahs — representing almost all sects — were running in every district of the city.
However, the relevant government institutions did not initiate any move on the information, said the religious scholars who blamed the government for not keeping a check on unregistered seminaries.
They also questioned the role of parents who sent their children in such seminaries.
“The place raided last night should not be called a Madressah,” insisted Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari of Wifaq-ul-Madaris, one of the five bodies in the country which registered religious seminaries.
“Our organisation has more than 14,000 registered Madressahs across the country, which are under complete checks and they have a proper code of conduct of teaching and schooling. Same is the case with the Madressahs under four other registration authorities.”
He said the registration bodies were responsible for keeping checks only on the seminaries under their organisation and it was the responsibility of the government to keep an eye on unregistered facilities.
“As we came to know independently, the children and men recovered were there as per the will of their parents and families.
In this situation, one should also grill those parents and families, who are equally responsible for such criminal act,” he added.