The Supreme Court has directed the inspector general of Punjab police to submit a report into the alleged brainwashing of a man by a “faith healer” in Lahore.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the case on an application filed by Mohammad Salman Shakeel’s parents in the Human Rights Cell of the Supreme Court.
Qazi Shakeeluddin stated in the application that a pir (faith healer) named Sufi Khurram and his disciple Rizwan had brainwashed his son, leading to him abandoning his family.
He urged the court to order authorities to recover his son and take action against Sufi Khurram and Rizwan as per the law.
Taking notice of the application, the director of SC’s Human Rights Cell wrote a letter to IG Punjab earlier this week, directing him to submit a report of the case within 15 days.
According to the father, Salman was introduced to Sufi Khurram by a friend he met at the local mosque while studying for his BCom degree.
Salman started spending his evenings and eventually staying over at Sufi Khurram’s dera (camp), he said.
A year later, in an apparent first sign of his radicalisation, Salman started wearing shalwar kameez to college and grew out his hair.
Salman then took admission in the M.A. programme at the University of Central Punjab, only to quit less than a month later citing the “presence of female students” in his class.
Salman devoted his next five years in service of Sufi Khurram, forgoing his studies and prospects of a job. He eventually started living away and would visit his family home for only a few hours every day.
Shakeeluddin alleged that Sufi Khurram had managed to separate several young men from their families and was exploiting them for his ‘faith healing’ business.
Later, although Salman moved with his family to Islamabad after reportedly developing differences with the faith healer, he soon returned to Lahore upon being called repeatedly by Sufi Khurram.
The father alleged that the faith healer had been holding his son “hostage” for past 10 years and instilled in him hatred against various sects.
He urged authorities to recover his son and take action against groups spreading sectarianism.