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20 killed by shrine custodian in Sargodha: police

Updated Apr 02, 2017 05:21pm


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A view of the cordoned off Sufi shrine on the outskirts of Sargodha District where three suspects including the shrine's custodian killed at least 20 people. —AFP
A view of the cordoned off Sufi shrine on the outskirts of Sargodha District where three suspects including the shrine's custodian killed at least 20 people. —AFP

The custodian of a shrine in Sargodha and two accomplices have been arrested for intoxicating and murdering 20 devotees and injuring four others with batons and knives early Sunday, police said.

Four women were among those killed in the attack at the shrine to Mohammad Ali, according to police, who said they had arrested three suspects including the custodian.

The motive for the slaughter was unclear but some officials said the chief suspect had mental health problems and had used violence on followers before.

“The 50-year-old shrine custodian, Abdul Waheed, has confessed that he killed these people because he feared that they had come to kill him,” regional police chief Zulfiqar Hameed told AFP.

“The suspect appears to be paranoid and psychotic, or it could be related to rivalry for the control of shrine,” he said, adding that the investigation into the killings near the city of Sargodha was continuing.

Local police station chief Shamshir Joya said the victims, whose clothes were torn and bloodstained, appeared to have been given intoxicants.

“We suspect that the victims had been given some intoxicants before they were murdered, but we will wait for a forensics report to confirm this suspicion,” he added.

Joya said the shrine was built in the area some two and a half years ago.

Sargodha Deputy Commissioner (DC) Liaquat Ali Chatta claimed that Waheed, believed to be a resident of Lahore, was a one-time employee of the Election Commission of Pakistan. He took over the shrine after its completion.

Local rescue service official Mazhar Shah said Waheed used to meet devotees once or twice a month and used violence to “heal” them.

“Local people say that Waheed used to beat the visitors who came to him for treatment of various physical or spiritual ailments,” Shah told reporters in televised comments.

“Sometimes he would remove the clothes of his visitors and burn them.”

The attack was reported by an injured woman who arrived at District Hospital Sargodha, DC Chatta said, adding that she was one of four survivors who managed to flee from the scene of the crime.

Screenshot shows people gather around bodies at a local hospital.—DawnNews
Screenshot shows people gather around bodies at a local hospital.—DawnNews

Television footage showed scattered shoes, clothes, sheets and cots in the yard of the white-painted domed shrine as police vehicles and police commandos surrounded the premises, sited amid green farmland.

Acting on the information, a heavy contingent of police rushed to the shrine and arrested Waheed and his alleged accomplices, he said.

Chatta said that the shrine custodian seemed “mentally unstable.” He added that the custodian was allegedly in the practice of “beating and torturing” devotees to “cleanse” them.

Quoting the survivor, the deputy commissioner alleged that the custodian had contacted devotees via telephone and summoned them to his room one by one. He claimed that the custodian had offered an intoxicating substance to his victims before removing their clothes and stabbing and beating them to death.

Punjab Minister for Religious Affairs Zaeem Qadri said intelligence agencies along with police and the local government were investigating all aspects of the case.

Qadri said that his department managed some 552 shrines in the province, but this one was not a registered with it.

“Investigators will also look into how this shrine was allowed to be set up on private land,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has asked for a police report on the investigation within 24 hours, a senior government official said.

There have been cases of people dying during exorcism ceremonies at some shrines across the country, but mass killings are rare.

The chief minister announced that Rs0.5 million will be given in compensation to the families of those who were killed in the attack, whereas compensation of Rs0.2 million will be given to the injured.


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Comments (117) Closed

S. A. M. Apr 02, 2017 08:01am

what could have been the motive.

Muhammad zafar iqbal Apr 02, 2017 08:16am

All such dubious shrines and their custodians should be dealt severely under the law. People may also be aware to these professional so called spiritual leaders .

javed Apr 02, 2017 08:16am

This story makes absolutely no sense. How can one man armed with a dagger kill 19 and injure 3 people, even if these 23 people were unarmed. And why was he calmly waiting around for the police to arrest him.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Apr 02, 2017 08:22am

Custodian was mentally unstable. Was this trgedy avoidable?.

helloWorld Apr 02, 2017 08:23am

Why would you do that?

Imtiaz husSain Apr 02, 2017 08:26am

Another terror attack just like the last wave months back.?

mr Apr 02, 2017 08:29am

What is going on in Pakistan?!

Leena Apr 02, 2017 08:30am

No value of humans in South Asia.

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 02, 2017 08:32am

Crime and faith don't go hand in hand, why are our people so ignorant about such crimes..?

srk Apr 02, 2017 08:35am

For all terrorist attack only solution close AfPak border.

Prateik Apr 02, 2017 08:44am

Mindless killings is causing deep distress.

Thunder Apr 02, 2017 08:48am

Seal the Durandline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Abood Apr 02, 2017 08:53am

Illiteracy at its peak.we need more schools.

Javed Arshad Apr 02, 2017 08:56am

Invest in education education education........

Sohail Khan Wazir Apr 02, 2017 09:01am

Seal the border with Afghanistan please.

Muhazir Apr 02, 2017 09:09am

Didn't I tell you before the security situation of ordinary citizen is worsening every day.

Rabia irshad Apr 02, 2017 09:09am

How sad! When will the nation get rid of the acts of the days of ignorance?

anees zed Apr 02, 2017 09:11am

@Abood - More schools? No. We need Orange, Red, Blue, Pink, Black Metros. That will help a lot.

suraj Apr 02, 2017 09:37am

Not a single day is passing without extreme violence So sad.

Angry pitbull Apr 02, 2017 09:44am

@Abood what illitracy once CPEC commence all these issues will vanish

apoorva Apr 02, 2017 09:53am

Guys please don't build shrines and madarsas ...Build modern schools

Onefriend Apr 02, 2017 09:56am

@Javed Arshad You guys are very literate persons, why do you need more literacy, Your Madrasa knowledge isn't enough or Do you really want to enhance your skills in science and technology?

Horseman Apr 02, 2017 10:06am

Typical reactions: 1. Afghanis are responsible. 2. Indians are responsible. 3. Western conspiracy.

Dil Dil Pakistan Apr 02, 2017 10:06am

Something is wrong its seems Punjab Govt is hiding the actual story.

asif Apr 02, 2017 10:08am

What is going on here?

lost cause Apr 02, 2017 10:08am

Mentally unstable and employee of Election Commission of Pakistan. What remains to be said. Unfortunate killings.

Ali Vazir Apr 02, 2017 10:11am


Zahid Apr 02, 2017 10:21am

@Rabia irshad When we become less religious and more human.

Shauakat ali Japan Wala Apr 02, 2017 10:21am

The purpose of the killing had not been informed. When the person planned the murder as informed he cannot be mentally unstable. Secondly what he did to the valuable of the victims had not been informed. How 19 bodies was recovered on first and how the 20th body recd. after ward show that he must have hide the bodies. why the killer removed the cloths and then kills the victims? This all question still unanswered. The person like me can have all such question the person like police in charge must have more than I am thinking. Is he hiding some thing? let the time proves.

last word Apr 02, 2017 10:28am

It appears to be a well planned massacre which is being passed on as a mental disorder incident.

Bipul Apr 02, 2017 10:31am

@Sohail Khan Wazir how border closing will help here.

Adil Jadoon Apr 02, 2017 10:32am

@Thunder why???

aBDUL RASHEED SHAIKH Apr 02, 2017 10:36am

The very shocking incident of 20 people's killings can not happen without any serious cause which should be revealed conducting investigations.

Dv Apr 02, 2017 10:44am

It is a horrible crime and it is sadder still because it happened in a shrine. I hope a thorough investigation will be made to ascertain the real cause.

Make Pakistan great Apr 02, 2017 10:56am


No plausible reason has been given in the report for this mass killing. Branding the killer as mentally unstable makes it very easy for the area police to 'solve' the case.

R K HASTIR Apr 02, 2017 10:57am

Dear Pakistani , if you love your country , please have check on that , nothing BAD than this-one.

AM Apr 02, 2017 11:08am

@ ABOOD, very true my friend. Not only Pakistan, the whole subcontinent needs more and more schools. Strictest form of secular and scientific education must be implemented at all costs. Religion to be restricted as a private matter as Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Ambedkar proposed. This is high time.

desi dimag Apr 02, 2017 11:08am

Ideology is turning into a violent practice.

Adnan aziz Apr 02, 2017 11:26am

A government employee custodian of a shrine ? How come that ?

He had been beating the devotees in the past. How did this remain unnoticed and unreported ?

This incident requires thorough investigation as well as suitable action against the employee and the department he belongs to.

Mv Apr 02, 2017 11:44am

How can a mentally unstable person plan and carry so many murders?. It takes serious amount of time for each murder. He was stable for doing 20 of them. Premeditated murders.

Must be extremism.

Whatever it is a sad state of affairs.

Imtiaz husSain Apr 02, 2017 11:55am

Looks like a terror attack, Pinjab government is trying to cover this up so as to look clean and more vigilant when it comes to prevent terror attacks !!

rich Apr 02, 2017 12:15pm

throw out all refuges and seal the border, both easten and western

Ashutosh Mishra Apr 02, 2017 12:18pm

Incredible !!!

Ashutosh Mishra Apr 02, 2017 12:20pm

@Horseman you left Israel out of the picture.

ashok Apr 02, 2017 12:21pm

It's funny that most educated people here are busy giving us lectures daily on democracy, secularism, and all those things they have never experienced in their own country and do not understand themselves.

M Jamal Apr 02, 2017 12:22pm

Our problem is that we regularly silent those who talk for rights,justice,sense,religious tolerance and modernisation and finally we get these outcomes.The time is for openness in our society.In our society teachers, professors and civil society are being regularly harassed so that we remain in dark ages and remain a security state like Syria,Iraq and Egypt.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:25pm

Everybody are cheating everybody.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:25pm

Government is least interested in the people.

Saqib ghumman Apr 02, 2017 12:27pm


GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:27pm

Government is not sincere.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:31pm

There is no semblance of law and order in the whole of the country.

ABE Apr 02, 2017 12:33pm

Why are Punjab and Sindh - the two largest provinces by the two largest political outfits like PPP and PML-N are constantly in the news - for all the wrong reasons?

point of view Apr 02, 2017 12:35pm

What is happening in Pakistan, need serious introspection their past policies.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:36pm

People in power are all very busy, looting the country.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:43pm

Rulers are busy looting the country. Extremists are busy killing the people.

GENGHIS khan Apr 02, 2017 12:44pm

Government is silent as usual.

P. S. Natarajan Apr 02, 2017 12:58pm

These killings appear to be by someone mentally deranged, but there is not much of a difference between such madness and the religious madness of the terrorists.

Anir Apr 02, 2017 12:59pm

Looks like no one care or value human life; or people who care are silent majority

gil Apr 02, 2017 01:05pm

@Horseman 100 percent right! There is no learning only deny - so no change!

Adnan Apr 02, 2017 01:12pm

This is ugly, these shrines needs to be properly regulated as they are becoming cover for loads of illegal activities. Innocent poor people are being exploited in the name of religion, drug addicts and dealers are using these shrines as safe heavens. Moreover many other immoral and illegal activities are finding breeding ground around these shrines.

super good Apr 02, 2017 01:12pm

Whether you accept it or not, all is not well in Pakistan.

super good Apr 02, 2017 01:13pm

Weapons are more easily available than food.

super good Apr 02, 2017 01:13pm

Lawlessness at its peak.

super good Apr 02, 2017 01:18pm

As usual, there are some people who will always say it is the job of the neighboring countries and close the matter. Either it is Ostrich attitude or they are sadists.

Amar Maratha Apr 02, 2017 01:23pm


Iqbal Apr 02, 2017 01:32pm

@anees zed NO,no. Ghost schools, vandalised hospitals or hospitals built by donations but to immortalise our own names, will definitely help! Communication? Why don't you walk from Dera Gujran upto Shahdra for work or walk to Govt. college or Islamia college or Punjab Secretariate or Myo Hospital? Central London is clean, spacious,even in Piccadilly the small side streets are at least two lane.Why? Because of good communication in the form of overground British Rail, Underground, separate Bus lanes,motorways starting from the centre of London, people can live as far as Reading and still can be at work in time.

AKKS Apr 02, 2017 01:51pm

Is this story correct ? Really hard to believe !

super good Apr 02, 2017 02:04pm

Sad to see not many comments here. May be life has become too routine for the people.

Asad Apr 02, 2017 02:34pm

Beside counter terrorism we need emergency in education. NOW

Khurram Apr 02, 2017 02:35pm

Why is the govt compensating the victims.

Muhammad Ismail Apr 02, 2017 02:37pm

@Dil Dil Pakistan may be

Sanjay Vaze Apr 02, 2017 02:38pm

My heartfelt condolences

AKB Apr 02, 2017 02:42pm

A very sad incident but it has got nothing to do with other countries. Why some people are after the closing of Pak-Afg border?

Saqib ghumman Apr 02, 2017 02:54pm

Sad . RIP

Luke Furtado Apr 02, 2017 03:01pm

How can one man kill 19 with a dagger and club ???? This story does not make sense at all.....

Samar Apr 02, 2017 03:02pm


Observer Apr 02, 2017 03:07pm

A true example of blind faith and ignorance. Islam doesn't approve of such actions whether for religious or personal purposes.

majid Apr 02, 2017 03:27pm

Ignorance at its apex,,,,,Government should frequently check these kind of people with diseases like schizophrenia and other mental disorders as most of these people are addicts

PAYAL Apr 02, 2017 03:36pm

@Thunder custodian is a Pakistani employed by pak government. What seal the Durand line. The problem is you don't see the trouble within. Sad for the loss of innocent lives.

JKhan Apr 02, 2017 03:44pm

@GENGHIS khan no. They have conveyed their deep 'sorrow'!!!

Fareed Hussain Apr 02, 2017 03:48pm

there should be a judicial inquiry into it, the story appears too lame to believe, there must be fare more into it what has is detailed out by Police

Waaris Apr 02, 2017 03:57pm

Need for registering and monitoring such places is highlighted time and time again by such cruel incidences.

Arifullah Prince farrey Apr 02, 2017 04:33pm


Apr 02, 2017 04:40pm

sorry to be done

abe Apr 02, 2017 04:55pm

@javed you have to guess who these people are supposed to be and what they're even writing about...

it's anyones guess in a world where there are criminals in all states...who know, who cares? it's usually lies.

Ahmed Hasan Apr 02, 2017 05:05pm

This will be big news for at least 3 months in any country. It will be forgotten in less than 3 days here..

Naveed Apr 02, 2017 05:14pm

Gen Raheel please come back. Pakistan needs you more than ever now.

Mike London Apr 02, 2017 05:48pm

It is time to control secretive cults and hate preachings.

Patriot Apr 02, 2017 06:24pm

Yaar there is a limit to everything

Global Peace Apr 02, 2017 07:24pm

sir, police story does not go under the throat.

GH Apr 02, 2017 08:28pm

@GENGHIS khan , start with yourself

Naxalite Apr 02, 2017 09:21pm

Lack of Education

Mudassar Apr 03, 2017 12:09am

@Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali 'Custodian was mentally unstable. Was this trgedy avoidable?.'

14% people in this country have mental health problems. It can happen with anybody

Asad Apr 03, 2017 12:45am

All these politations who are peers who use these innocents from centuries please give them education instead of making them slaves

Anis Apr 03, 2017 01:07am

@javed did you read the mentally unstable custodian part

Anis Apr 03, 2017 01:09am

@Naveed how will bringing ex army chief help in a religious matter such as this

Ch. K. A. Nye Apr 03, 2017 02:49am

@Horseman ... Indeed Horseman sb., everybody else is to blame except ourselves. We simply do not take responsibility.

Ch. K. A. Nye Apr 03, 2017 02:56am

@GENGHIS khan ... array Khan sb., there isn't much the Government can say. The most we can look forward to is a commission to probe the matter and eventually a report.

Brar Apr 03, 2017 03:42am

@javed read again he intoxicated them and he was not alone three of his accomplice also arrested.

anonie Apr 03, 2017 03:48am

Sheer ignorance.

saz Apr 03, 2017 04:47am

@javed I think he has mental illness hence did not flee. The victims were intoxicated hence did not resist.

ajit Apr 03, 2017 04:56am

@Leena , no value of human life in Pakistan. Rest of South Asia is ok.

ajit Apr 03, 2017 04:56am

@Thunder , what has durand line to do with it.

ajit Apr 03, 2017 05:02am

@GENGHIS khan Government might have taken the notice of it.

abe Apr 03, 2017 05:03am

@Naxalite why? the educated don't commit crimes?

ajit Apr 03, 2017 05:09am

@M Jamal Solve the Kashmir issue. Every thing will be peaceful in Pakistan.

Azmeen Apr 03, 2017 05:12am

Culprits Should be served with as severe punishment as possible.

Ahmed Apr 03, 2017 05:32am

If we keep our masses illiterate and uneducated and believe in superstition and hearsay and jadoo tona and pirs then these kinds of tragedies would continue.

Asad Apr 03, 2017 06:27am

@Shauakat ali Japan Wala Suppose you received all the answers to the questions you have posed will it change the reality that 20 people lost their lives, that people still flock to these shrines, that many of these shrines are a land grab scam, that our religon never told us to go to shrines in the first place, etc.?

Amer RAo Apr 03, 2017 08:01am

Its really very tragic news, please show suspects faces, may be more victims will come forward.

Bupi Apr 03, 2017 08:33am

@Horseman One one doesn't want to see truth one cant help.

Jaju Apr 03, 2017 10:41am

A former employee of Election Commission and such a rogue and vicious? What could have not happened to the results.

CH. K. A. Nye Apr 03, 2017 01:58pm

@Anis .. I don't believe it to be a religious matter at all. It's the work of a demented man.

Vivek Wani Apr 03, 2017 04:28pm

All over the world such type of incidents happened, either at holy place, or hospital even at resident also. Not location but mentality matters.

Aslam Khan Apr 03, 2017 07:25pm

Innocent people are deceived by so-called spiritual entities. Common people should know that so-called spiritual persons play with their emotions and reject them.

RAJESH Apr 03, 2017 07:36pm

This is horrible. To think that the VICTIM's families won't file charges because they believe in this man to be a Saint and that killing their family members was part of their God's plan??? No wonder they are doped up! These people allow themselves to be killed. How sick is that? Brain washing is not just in politics, folks!!

Victem Apr 04, 2017 01:58pm

A pir from havelian also tried to execute such mission before my very own eyes and has been reported to police even victems did report as well but this pir status goes long way even police itself takes it as nonsense. So what right after 8 months this pir's mureedins turned voilent and crushed the reporting victem now a martyer and it just didnt stoped there. The widdow is also still the very target of pir just to grab their property which is infront of darbar and it all has to do with this mission. Motives of such barbarianism is just to rule darbar who ever comes in the way geta crushed by pirs all the time and authorities most of the senoir officials support them because of pirs political connections or religious look alike reasonings.