Nearly 25 female workers of a Landhi garments factory fell unconscious in the aftermath of an exorcism to get rid of ‘evil spirits’ in the workplace on Monday.
“The factory seemed to be overtaken by a genie or evil spirit as many of my co-workers have experienced mysterious incidents in the past,” claimed Farzana Naseem, who arrived with an unconscious colleague in an ambulance. “A spiritualist was called to this morning by the factory owners to get rid of the suspected ‘jinns’ but as soon as he began reciting different verses, the workers began falling unconscious while others ran out shouting and screaming for help.”
The rescue teams were called in to the factory, Casual Sports Wear, which is located in Landhi Export Processing Zone, to take the unconscious employees to Jinnah hospital. The rescue workers insisted, however, that there was a mysterious gas leak which caused the workers to faint.
On the other hand, the doctors and psychiatrists, who treated the patients, denied that there was any gas leakage. Some of the workers developed a temporary neurological condition, most likely out of fear from the exorcism, leading to a mass hysteria.
“I do not believe the workers were possessed,” said Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre deputy executive director Dr Seemin Jamali. “But this hysteric influence might have played out as a ripple effect.”
There was chaos in the casualties ward as patients and their attendants hysterically insisted they were possessed. But the doctors and paramedics carried out medical examinations and found out that all the vitals of the admitted workers were sound, including a normal oxygen saturation level.
Dr Jamali blamed the rescue workers for the commotion and rumour-mongering. “These workers, mostly uneducated and uninformed about medical conditions, caused a ruckus at the hospital based on their assessment of a poisonous gas,” she said, adding that the news channels jus followed the news blindly.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2013.