In Islamabad, Pakistan, 20 people were hacked and beaten to death, and four others injured. On Sunday, the Pakistani police reported that the victims were given an alcoholic drink, then they were beaten and hacked with batons and knives.
The victims’ bodies, which bore the marks of torture, were stripped of clothing. Dr. Pervade Haider, Chief Medical Officer at the hospital said, “the dead people were badly tortured with clubs and knives, mainly on their necks and backs.” The overall count of people killed was said to be “sixteen men and four women found murdered,” said the police.
After the massacre, the police arrested the Sufi shrine’s custodian, Abdul Waheed. Mr. Waheed admitted to having lured the victims 12 miles from Sargodha to the Sufi shrine in the Punjab Province. Moreover, Waheed confessed that he has two other accomplices.
The motive for the killings was not clear, but officials say they are investigating whether or not it had to do with control of the shrine. Zulfiqar Hameed, the Regional Police Chief, said, “Abdul Waheed, has confessed that he killed these people because he feared that they had come to kill him.” The chief suspects that Abdul Waheed might be struggling with his mental health and appears to be “paranoid and psychotic.”
Among the dead was the son of Gujjar, who locals claim is the rightful heir of the shrine. Abdul Waheed became the custodian of the shrine two years ago. Hameed told the Guardian that Waheed “feared that the son of the saint might remove him as custodian and take charge of the shrine himself.”
According to the police, an injured woman managed to escape the shrine and reported the attack to the local police. A local rescue service official, Mazhar Shah said that Waheed would invite devotees to the shrine monthly and then would beat them. Waheed claimed that the violent rituals he performed would cleanse the devotees of sin and cure diseases.
With that said, Sufis believe in seeking the spiritual communion through music and dance. Followers of a self-described mystic were accustomed to rituals in which they would sometimes remove their clothes to be cleansed of their sins. Waheed would ask the devotees to remove their clothes and then beat them with batons to cleanse their spirits.
Thus, people from the surrounding area told police that they “used to hear[ing] screams coming from the shrine.” The beating was part of the ritual to help cleanse drug addicts and people under the influence.
The Chief Minister of Punjab Province, Shahbaz Sharif, has announced that the families of those who were killed would be compensated. He also called for proper regulations to be put in place to control shrine custodians in the country. Since many custodians were granted the status of sainthood and were prominent local political figures, they needed to be regulated. In addition, shrine custodians collected large sums of money to be used for food and clothing. However, Mr. Sufi states that when an illicit custodian is involved he would spend the money on drugs, women, and alcohol.