Abused children.

THERE is much talk in the media and in social circles about the rising rate of crimes in society, which is an undeniable fact, but there are other types of crimes that do not attract such spotlight. Committed in the name of honour and even religion, such crimes are more heinous and disturbing than robberies and muggings. One such act is that of transforming normal, healthy children into what are generally known as choohay, or rats.

This is a very old practice that has been taking place in the city of Gujrat where Shah Daula's shrine is located. Over there, children are abused, tortured and disfigured mercilessly, and, unfortu-nately, no major step has been taken by the government to stop this odious crime.

The disciples of the saint perform this ritual of transforming perfectly normal children into 'rats' in a bid to boost sympathy for the saint. When the children at the shrine are born, an iron ring is placed over their heads so that their face may not grow in proportion to the rest of the body, which continues to grow normally.

Parents who visit the shrine to pray for a child have to...

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