Parents of seminary students face humiliation
ISLAMABAD, July 6(Dawn): Nawaz, 65, may not have imagined he would ever be
stripped off completely naked for being father of a student of a controversial
Madressah. But he had this experience of his life after having retrieved his
16-year-old Asad from the mosque and Madressah complex amid heavy shelling and
exchange of fire between the law-enforcement agencies and Lal Masjid
He was not the only one to face such a humiliation for no crime
of his own. Almost everybody who reached here from far-flung areas and went
inside the militant-infected complex to secure protection of their dear ones had
to suffer in the same manner. Mrs Shaukat Elahi and Qazi Zahid, who had come
from Shinkiari to get back their son and cousin, were equally disturbed over
'this shameful attitude' of the authorities. From authorities' point of view
this is quite understandable, but if the idea is to win them back this may not
be the right way to go about.
Nawaz, a poor farmer from Ichrian village
of Mansehra district, had arrived here after learning about the ongoing standoff
in the capital. He was encouraged by the Rangers deployed near the Covered
Market after making necessary registration to personally approach the Lal Masjid
and try to secure the release of his son.
He said that the Rangers
kept his national identity card before allowing him to go inside the mosque and
when he returned at about 10:30am he was asked to strip off to ensure he was not
carrying any explosive material on his return. While Nawaz was allowed to leave
the security post, his son was taken into custody immediately and handed over to
an intelligence agency for interrogation. Even after the curfew relaxation was
over in the afternoon, he was still waiting in the scorching heat for the
release of his son.
Qazi Zahid, another resident of Shinkiari, said his
15-year- old cousin Umar Ali, son of Mrs Elahi and Asad were very terrified when
they met him inside the boundary wall of Lal Masjid complex. He said the clerics
initially refused to release the students and then started convincing them not
to take them when pressed. The clerics said all male students who had gone out
of the complex were not allowed by the authorities to go home and were handed
over to different intelligence agencies or sent to jail.
"As the clerics
resisted the release of students, we rather forcefully climbed the walls and
entered the complex. They held us on gunpoint and then said they would not stop
the students from going but they are staying back voluntarily. We kept on
insisting and finally persuaded the clerics to let the students go."
said he did not personally come across Ghazi Abdul Rashid and he did not know
how many students, women or children were inside because when they approached
the front gate of Jamia Hafsa, their boys were kept between the boundary wall
and the main building.
Zahid said he along with Mrs Elahi and Nawaz
returned with the boys only to find out a hostile attitude from the security
"We were bodily searched and then ordered to strip off. We
protested but to no avail and had to doff our clothes. It was the most shameful
attitude on part of the Rangers."
He said the authorities may have
security concerns but we could have been dealt with in a civilised manner. He
said none of the parents had any anti-social and criminal record but still they
were treated like criminals.
He said they were told by the authorities
that the students would be released only after complete screening by the
intelligence authorities but it was not clear when they would be able to return
He said the parents had sent their children to the Madressah to
get religious education because of limited resources for education but this
turned out to be a source of misery and mental tension for the entire
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