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Submitted by HARI IYER (United States), Jan 27, 2006 at 01:03

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Boys escape from madrassa in chains

KARACHI: Police in Pakistan are searching for the principal of a religious school who kept young boys chained up and beat them daily to force them to study. Police raided the madrassa in the southern city of Karachi after 8-year-old Mohammad Ammar and 10-year-old Ahsan Mawia jumped from the roof to escape, still wearing their chains. "One of the boys was bleeding profusely and there were visible marks of beating on their bodies," investigating police officer, Jahan Khan Niazi, said on Thursday. He said police raided the madrassa seeking to detain the principal on charges of keeping the boys in "illegal detention". "They beat us every day, kept us in chains and gave very little food to eat. We want to go home," Ammar, the younger boy, told a court hearing after which the boys were handed over to their family. Complaints about conditions in madrassas are widespread in Pakistan, where more than 12,000 religious schools provide free education, food and shelter to about a million children, most of them from poor families. The government launched a drive in 2003 to reform madrassas but this has faltered due to opposition from hardline Islamists. reuters

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