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What was the first thing you thought of after looking at above picture? I am sure you must have thought that the guy in picture must be suffering from some genetic disorder or disease which has made him look so woeful. But this is not the case with him or with thousands of his kind, he is one of ten thousands of “Rats of Shah Dola” or “Dolay Shah de Chohay”. Their heads were donned with iron helmets when they were infants to make sure that their head don’t grow naturally and they don’t have a normal healthy life. A very sad and sickening story is on your way.
A saint belonging from Seherwardi School of thought from Aurangzeb Era, Shah Dola in Gujrat (Punjab, Pakistan) claimed that he had the power to punish the disobedient parents in the form of children with small heads. He used to put an iron cap on children and get them to his shrine to help him by begging and getting him money, those ill-fated children were called as “Rats of Shah Dola” or Dola Shah ke Chouhey. From then this sickening ritual actually started. People started to believe that Shah Daula has the power of making incapable women fertile, it was also made famous that those women who were blessed with children after praying at the shrine will donate their first born baby to shrine to be a “Rat of Shah Dola” or the rest of their children will born disabled. So as a result thousands of women visit the shrine every month and hundreds of newly born babies are left at the shrine to become a Rat of Shah Daula’s Shrine, making him mentally handicapped and spending all his life being dependant on others.
There may be above 10,000 Rats of Shah Daulas in Pakistan. Most of them are in Punjab specially in the city of Gujrat who beg for Shah Dola’s Shrine. This is a very sad example of human rights violation that too in the name of religion, people make use of the religion for their personal gains more often than not.
The saddest part is the role of people in this issue. They are too patsy to pray on a shrine to get blessed with a child and leave their newly born babies in the premises of shrine to get his head donned in a steel helmet and to spend his whole life begging for the shrine being a mentally retard. No role of government have been observed lately to stop this inhumane practice and by the look of it, it seems like this practice is going to continue in years and years to come.