A pir beat a woman, while performing an exorcism on Friday morning.
According to a nurse at Nishtar Hospital, Katchi Abadi resident Zakia was taken to a local pir by her family after she began to have an asthma attack. The pir, Safdar Khan, took the woman into a room and tied her up with rope. He then stuck a burning poker through her wrists and feet and beat her bloody with a stick.
Locals in the area said that after Zakia screamed in agony, the pir released her in her parent’s custody. “He told her parents that the djinn had been exorcised and that the only way to get rid of the demon was to burn her and beat it out of her,” said a nurse Rehana, who told reporters that the doctors at the hospital had refused to release a report on the case. “The doctors won’t file against Safdar. They often send epilepsy or asthma cases to him to lighten their own load” she said.
Police officials also refused to file the case, after Zakia’s brother tried to file a report. “I didn’t know my parents were taking her to a pir. My sister can no longer walk and she will be bedridden for the rest of her life because of this,” Zain Hadi said. “I tried to tell my parents that this exorcism is fake and that my sister actually suffers from asthma but they didn’t listen. They took her to the pir when I was away from home,” he added.Safdar Pir’s attendant Shani told reporters that the pir had cured the woman. “They knew the risks when they brought her here and she is cured now. She was writhing in pain when they brought her and she could barely breathe. Now she is calm. Her wounds will heal in time and she is no longer possessed,” he said. Shani said that Safdar has asked Zakia’s parents to sacrifice a goat in her name and distribute the meat among the pir and his patrons to garner favour of the spirits.
“One needs to appease the djinns on our side before they can move against the evil djinn possessing the girl.
The police know there was no other way which is why they haven’t said anything and the doctors come to us regularly for such things,” he said. Shani said that Safdar often ‘treated’ patients who had been referred to him by hospital officials.
“They always send us the cases that they know are for us. The possessed people are treated here. That is why the doctors will never go against us. Safdar is one of the most famous healers in this city,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.
Correction: An earlier headline led with the prefix “Botched exorcism” which suggested that the performance of such an act could actually cure people. This has been changed.