27 Sep 2017/Wednesday
About 60 km away from Srinagar is a tiny village that is a living nightmare for countless children. This is Mondji, near Sopore town, where a self-styled faith healer has been accused of raping scores of minor boys on the pretext of summoning jinns to drive away evil “nazar” from his so-called patients.
The Kashmir police have booked Aijaz Sheikh, called Maulvi Sahab by locals, under Section 377 of the state’s Ranbir Penal Code and filed a charge sheet in court. Absence of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in RPC has prevented access to justice for children who have been sexually abused. Sheikh and his relatives who said he was being falsely implicated in the case by a family who had taken money from him and not returned it.
The accused is married and has three children, including two boys and a girl.
“My elder brother is a pious man and he is being framed. Every Sunday, his followers swarm at his house seeking his blessings so that he would not have a single minute to speak to you,” said Aijaz’s elder brother, requesting anonymity.
Sheikh, says, “I am innocent. You do not even have to trust me; you can ask anyone in the village and you will get the idea of the reputation I hold.”
While responding to a question about the jinns he claims to have, and how he heals people, Sheikh said he only gives taweez (amulets) to people to treat them and not any kind of medicines. “If I had them (jinns) then, I would have them now too,” said Sheikh in the court. According to the victims, the Peer was approached by his followers to get rid of their problems ranging from love life to business to health. They alleged that he claimed to have jinns under his control who would only speak to a male child below 14 years of age.
His followers would ask around and relatives would readily send young boys to stay with the accused.
“He had a strategy to trap us. He would trap us in guilt and use it against us. We were put through uncomfortable questions. He would ask us if we ever got physically intimate with a girl or if we like someone.” Briefed one of the victims, who is now an adult.
“His favourite question was if we masturbate. What do you expect from a 14-year-old kid? He would humiliate us to the core for sinning and being the cause of the problems of our families. He would use the guilt to sexually exploit us,” he added. “A lot of people ask us why we did not come forward before. We were children who were vulnerable, scared to the core. Deep within, we were battling if we should fight the assault or succumb to it,” he said.
“It has taken us several years to come out of the trauma. Being men, we are not allowed to be vulnerable or timid. We have the burden of maintaining our reputation of the entire gene pool,” he added.
This reporter met several victims who, after the abuse of several years, have finally come out to fight. They said in court that they were told if they revealed the incident to someone, they would be vanished by a ghost or devoured by jinn. “I met this Peer at a mosque and I was quite impressed the way he read prayers,” said a follower of the the Peer of many years.
“His aura was attractive. I learnt about his alleged healing powers and approached him as I was facing problems at work.” “Believing him, I sent my innocent nephew to him and later unknowingly pushed another nephew into this nightmare. Last year, I got to know about his evil act and it angers me. These people take advantage of people’s innocence and exploit children.”
The court granted bail to the accused after he contended that he needed time to prepare for his defence. His counsel, Bashir Ahmad Mallah, told that the case is in the initial stages of trial. The court is scheduled to hear the case again on September 27.
As can be seen these cases give us a clear picture that we may belong to any religion or caste or creed, our problems cannot be solved by any self-styled Godman / Saint/ Maulvi / Preacher. God has given man and women two hands with which we have to carve our space around us in this world. We can use these hands for making our world or destroying it. God left us here on earth so let us make it a better place ourselves rather than going around these sinners in the name of cleansing our sins.
As published in http://indiatoday.intoday.in