AT a mofussil madressah, a student has died, and the accused teacher is absconding. It appears that a teacher at a Vehari madressah tortured a blind student to death for not learning his lessons. The madressah is no ordinary one, but is owned by none other than Qari Abdul Latif, who gained much fame from being one of the movers of the Shariat Bill, as a Senator from the JUI-D. Apparently, Muhammad Atif was not learning the lessons imparted by Qari Ziauddin. So the Qari hung Atif from a ceiling fan. The blind child was only unfastened when he fainted. But he was not taken to hospital, but kept in the teacher's room, until he died. The body was only autopsied, thus permitting the registration of a murder case, when the DSP Vehari Saddar intervened upon receiving information of the incident. Apart from his sending out police teams to arrest the alleged killer, Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani has ordered an enquiry into Atif's death. True, most madressahs not only provide free education but free living to so many children, but the purpose of sending children to madressahs may be to get them an education on the cheap, not to get them killed. The Vehari incident is not the first time that a madressah student has paid the ultimate price for an education, and if the madressahs are left unchanged, it will be by no means the last. The initial impulse will be to increase the chorus of voices calling for the shutting down of the madressahs. This also fits in with the slogans of 'enlightened moderation' that were continually being raised by the Musharraf government, and which caused the issue of madressah reform to be raised by a stream of high-profile foreign visitors to these madressahs, all convinced that the extremism behind 9/11 would disappear if the madressahs were reformed aright. They should be reformed and apart from their syllabus, there is also need for reform of teaching methods, so that there are not just no more unfortunate deaths, but also no maimings in madressahs.