Minor’s rape complaint blew lid off sex abuse by fake mystic in Kashmirhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/minors-rape-complaint-blew-lid-off-sex-abuse-by-fake-mystic-in-kashmir/

Minor’s rape complaint blew lid off sex abuse by fake mystic in Kashmir

Gulzar Bhat,who claims to be a mystic,has been running girls-only residential school for 10 yrs.

It is a sex abuse scandal that would have carried on but for the 14-year-old girl from south Kashmir who recently joined the bogus seminary run by Gulzar Ahmad Bhat at Khansahib in Budgam district. The seminary was offering a two-month religious and spiritual course and the girl had joined that. She called her uncle the night Bhat raped her. When her uncle arrived,she narrated her ordeal and they approached the police.

Bhat,who claims to be a mystic,has been running the girls-only residential school for the past 10 years. Five years ago,he started a campaign in which he portrayed himself as mystic. With his long hair and skull cap,he started appearing on local cable television preaching religion and mysticism. Last year he even claimed to have gained Muarifat,a stage in Sufism where a person has mystical knowledge of spiritual truth. He soon became an instant hit with a large following.

Known among his followers as Syed Gulzar Qalandar,he had kept a separate room for himself at the seminary and called it Hujray Pak (the purified room). It was here that Bhat,a divorcee in his 40s,used to sexually exploit the girl students. The police said it was a well-organised set up. The fake godman used to employ a few women to coax the girls to spend a night with him,said a police source. “The women would persuade the girls to Bhat’s room. They would advise them to serve the peer sahib (Bhat) wholeheartedly and that all their problems would be solved,” the source said.

Once inside the room,Bhat would recite verses from scriptures to persuade the girls. “He would tell the girls that they will be purified by having a relationship with him. He told them that whichever part of their body he would touch,that would be protected from hell fire,” said the police source.

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Bhat had a huge following across Kashmir especially among the youths. It is one reason the police took a few days to arrest him. When the girl’s uncle approached the police,they were initially reluctant to register a case fearing backlash. But then three more minor girls came forward against him. Soon the district’s top police officer directed the police to register a case and arrest him.

At the court,while the girls recorded their statements before Budgam chief judicial magistrate,Bhat was listening. He didn’t say a word in his defence. The police believe more girls could have been abused by Bhat.

The police are also looking into the source of funds using which he expanded his activities in the Valley in the last three years. The residential school is spread over vast land and include two well-decorated buildings.