Mundji (Sopore): This village is torn between screams of ‘victims’ who have accused a local ‘faith-healer’ for years of sexploiting young children and some villagers believing him to be innocent even after police arrested him.
Police claim the so-called peer, known in his village to be a faith-healer, Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh has been allegedly involved in sexually exploiting minor children for 16 years.
Acting on a complaint filed by a parent in Bomai that the peer had sexually exploited his nephew, the so-called faith-healer was arrested by the police on March 6.
The sexploitation came to the fore when the complainant’s nephew was asked to visit the peer again a few weeks earlier but he refused. The boy disclosed that the faith healer had been sexually exploiting him for the last four years.
Another victim Akash (Name changed), from Sopore, told Kashmir Reader, “I visited him two years ago when I was in 6th class. We had a family problem and my family thought he might help. I was asked to stay with him and he abused me more than 50 times over the next few months. I was too young to complain but now — in my 10th class — I have gathered the courage to speak up. I hope he is punished for his acts.”
“He used to tell people that he possessed spiritual power and asked them to bring their children so that they can talk to the Jinn’s. He might have sexually exploited many children in this way. Most victims didn’t speak up because he threatened to kill them,” Abdul Qayoom, SSP Sopore told reporters.
The peer’s defenders have been equally vocal. His family and neighbors are vouching for his innocence. Ghulam Mohiuddin, resident of Mundji and a neighbor of the faith healer told Kashmir Reader, “Aijaz sahib has been a faith healer since his childhood. He was always busy with prayers and tilawat-I-Quran as far as I know. These accusations have come as a shock to us.”
The peer is married to Gulshana Begum and they have two sons and a daughter.
“Aijaz sahib has no enmity with anyone. We were surprised when the police came at night some days ago. They checked the medical tonics which were available in our home. Now they have made case against him that he used to abuse children using drugs,” Gulshana alleged.
According to village Sarpanch, Mohd Subhan Khan, “When police entered the peer’s home he ran away because in 2005 he was shot by some unidentified gunmen in his leg. He thought someone had come to kill him again. Police took peer sahib’s medicine and his brother Ashiq and his nephew and told us bring peer to police station in morning.”
The police have now booked him under the FIR no. 22 of 2016 under section 377RPC in police station Bomai.
According to the Peer’s brother, Mohd Arif Sheikh, says the motive of the complainant Fayaz Ahmad Shalla, who claims that the peer exploited his nephew, is questionable. The peer’s brother also claims that Fayaz Shalla’s brother Aziz Shalla had borrowed money from the Peer for his daughter’s marriage.
“When peer baba asked for the money they were unable to do so. It was only when the peer baba insisted on his money they went to police with a fake charge,” Sheikh said.
“We want a medical report and other evidence on the basis of which they have arrested my brother. How come all four victims who have come forward belong to the same extended family? How come they are the only ones giving statement against peer baba? Why has no one else come forward? After all a hundreds of people used to visit my brother. This is a conspiracy of one family against a respected spiritual man,” he alleged.