Supreme Court to fast track hearing in appeal against Kashmiri godman, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat

Supreme Court today accepted the appeal against acquittal of Kashmiri “Peer”, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, who is accused of raping four minor girls. Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, also known as Gulzan Peer, was acquitted by a trial court and the Jammu and Kashmir high court upheld the ruling in February 2017 which triggered outrage in the state, prompting the state to approach the apex court.

In 2013, Gulzar was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police raping and sexually abusing several young girls at his religious centre, Khansahib in Budgam district. He ran a residential institution for girls offering short term courses in religious studies and also promoted himself on local TV channels and published promotional advertisements in local newspapers.

It was alleged that he had raped as many as 500 girls under the pretext of “purifying” them. He was also accused of calling the victims separately into his room on the pretext of religious teachings at night. He would raise the volume of a tape recorder so that screams and cries of the victims were not heard.

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The girls had even approached Kashmiri separatist leader Asiya Andrabi, and the Darul Uloom at Bandipora, who, despite assuring them justice, took no action against the Maulvi. So much for “azaadi” enthusiasts having the back of their own.

Recently, another local Maulvi in Kashmir has been accused of raping scores of minor boys under the pretext of summoning djinns and driving away ‘evil eye’. Kashmir Police has booked Aijaz Shaikh, popularly known as Maulvi Saab amongst the locals, under section 377 of the state’s Ranbir Penal Code.

Shockingly, the Maulvi has been abusing young boys since years when he was teaching Quran and Arabic in a school. He would also rape boys while pretending to be possessed by a djinn.

The victims have gone through such trauma that some are even showing signs of depression, anxiety, guilt and fear. However, since the state of Jammu and Kashmir is exempt from Acts like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO), the victims are deprived of sensitivity in approaching such case.

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