Pakistani bus conductors who abused special needs children say they were 'disciplining' them

LAHORE (DAWN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Two Lahore men, arrested for torturing children with special needs in a horrific incident caught on camera, have told police they were trying to "stop the kids from mischievous activities", officials told DawnNews on Saturday (Oct 14).

Usman and Akram, who were responsible for transporting the children home after school, had been arrested on Friday after two video clips showing them physically and verbally abusing children went viral on social media on Thursday night. The footage showed them hanging two of the children upside down and beating up them.

Deputy Inspector General Lahore Haider Ashraf told DawnNews on Saturday that during the course of interrogation, the two men had confessed their crime but tried to hide behind the argument that they were trying to stop the children from misbehaving on the moving vehicle.

The videos that landed the abusers in trouble had showed their victims, who were hearing and speech impaired, crying and pleading in sign language for the abuse to stop.

The abuse was flagged thanks to a commuter on the bus, who filmed the incident on his mobile phone and sent the footage to electronic media.

Both men were also suspended by the principal of the children's school, Gang Mahal - a government school for children with special needs.

The school has also contacted the families of the students for more details, as parents claimed that the children had also complained of abuse in the past.

Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif also took notice of the incident and formed a special committee to investigate the torture of the children. He has sought a report within 72 hours.

Parents of the students have requested the government and the school administration to take action against the abusers and ensure a safe environment for the children.