At least 20 people, including six members of a family, have been killed at a dargah allegedly by its mentally disturbed custodian and his associates in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
According to Deputy Commissioner Liaqut Ali Chatha, the incident took place at the dargah of Muhammad Ali Gujjar in a village in Sargodha district, some 200 km from Lahore, at around midnight on Friday.
The custodian, Abdul Waheed was apparently suffering from serious mental health issues, Chatha said.
Chatha said it appeared that the caretakers of the dargah had first drugged the visitors, stripped them and then stabbed and clubbed 20 people, including three women, to death.
Police official Mazhar Shah said that the motive behind the crime has not been ascertained yet but locals have said that from last two years the suspect used to visit the area for ‘spiritual sessions’ with the disciples.
“We have taken five people, including the caretakers of the dargah—Waheed and Yousuf, into custody for interrogation,” Chatha said.
Three persons, including two women, have been injured. They have been shifted to hospital where their condition is stated to be critical.
People would come to the dargah for “cleansing” their sins and allow the caretakers to beat them with clubs. “But in this case the visitors were first drugged and then stabbed with daggers and hit with clubs, apparently during the cleansing process,” Chatha said.
According to senior police officer Bilal Iftikhar, one injured witness also said there was a clash between two groups of the caretakers of the dargah over its possession.
Twenty people of both groups, including six members of one family, were killed, the police officer said.
“We have launched an investigation into all aspects of this case to ascertain the facts of this gory incident,” Iftikhar said.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed at the dargah soon after the incident and a search operation was launched in adjoining areas. An emergency has been declared in hospitals in Sargodah.