Fake dervish case: Did police deliberately skip the financial angle?

SRINAGAR: The investigating agencies have left untouched the financial aspect associated with the case of fake dervish Gulzar Ahmad Bhat alias Gulzar Peer, who is under trial on charges of multiple rapes, raising many questions.
Gulzar was arrested on May 21 last year after several minor girls, who were enrolled at his so-called seminary in Khansahib area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, accused him of rape. Following the allegations, he was booked by police under section 376 (rape) and 109 (abetment).
The police have, however, ignored the case’s financial aspect involving several bank accounts and properties belonging to Gulzar’s ‘seminary’, sources told Kashmir Reader.
“The ‘seminary’ has several bank accounts in multiple banks wherein millions of rupees are deposited. But the police didn’t investigate as to what the source and use of money was. The bank accounts were never made a part of the investigation,” the sources said.
“Initially, there was an attempt to touch the financial aspect of the case, but there was political pressure on police to give up,” they added.
A Srinagar-based close aide of Gulzar has been looking after the finances, and he continues to do the job.
“All bank accounts of the ‘seminary’ are still operational, and this (Srinagar-based) man is still handling them,” the sources said.
Curiously, the financial aspect was left uninvestigated when the villagers in Khansahib had, very early on in the case, expressed doubts about the source of funding to Gulzar’s ‘seminary’.
42-year-old Gulzar had been a carpet weaver before he shot into fame as a ‘dervish’ some 10 years ago. He found his so-called seminary ‘Noorain Syed-un-Nisa Fatima Zehra’ in 2010, and at the time of his arrest an estimated Rs 2 crores had been already spent on its under construction building. The reported accounts of the villagers suggested that Gulzar and his entourage travelled in “at least two dozen luxury cars like Scorpios and Pajeros” every time they moved outside the district.
The expenditure had puzzled the villagers.
“No one surely knows where the money came from, and since this was an unregistered organisation, the money could have come from anywhere,” the village Sarpanch (headman) Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Bhat had said.
The buildings of the ‘seminary’, including the expensive under-construction one, have been let free by the investigating team, too.
“The buildings were not seized by police since the investigations were only limited to rape charges. When a case was registered against Gulzar, police raided his personal chambers in the buildings and recovered his personal belongings like costly music systems and laptops. “But the building is still in custody of the ‘seminary’,” the sources added.
Police has already filed charge sheet against Gulzar before judicial magistrate Budgam while the accused is lodged in the Central Jail here.
The police feel that “other aspects” of the case can come under investigation in future on directions of the court.
“The case is in court, and it is up to the court to decide whether other aspects of the case are to be investigated,” a senior police official from Budgam told Kashmir Reader, pleading anonymity.

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