Sopore ‘faith healer’ accused of sexually abusing thousands arrested for ‘unlawful activities’

Aijaz Sheikh has been booked in another case under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act

Srinagar: While victims of abuse and rape eagerly waited for the court hearings against the alleged abuser Aijaz Sheikh, a ‘faith healer’ from Sopore’s Mundji village, he has been booked in another case under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act on Tuesday.

The first case pertaining to Section 377 of the Indian Pecal Code had to be heard in the court today, but the hearing did not take place, for the fifth time.

“He has been remanded by the police for 7 days and was booked under section 13 of unlawful activities,” says Mudasir Ahmad, Munshi Police Station Tarzoo.

The Station House Officer Sabzar Ahmad, denied having ‘such a case in his police station’ and refused to divulge further information.

ALSO READ: Dark demons and child rape: How this faith healer abused countless young boys for decades

Senior Superintendent of Police, Sopore Harmeet Singh said, “That peer case has been challaned. This is something different from that. It has nothing to do with that case. He is involved in some other activities. The case which was against him has already been challaned in the court of law. So, kindly if you can stop circulating these stories…”

“We will not be able to work if you start giving out stories like this. These persuasions are not to be highlighted. That means we should not highlight these social issues because then it is the problem of the society, stigma par with the people who are involved in that, the victims. And if you can do justice to those victims also…,” he added.

The victims however, were happy about the news of Sheikh’s arrest.

“When I got to know that he has been arrested, I was happy that today no child would be getting molested by him. By one way or the other, he is getting punished,” says Muntazir (name changed), a victim who alleges abuse at the hands of Sheikh.

Apart from numerous testimonies, FIR number 22/2016, section 377 RPC, Case FIR number 4513/N40 in police station Bomai, Sopore had already been lodged against Sheikh who lured many people of sending their kids from the age of 12 or below to spend a night with them so their ‘sins could be washed off.’

ALSO READ: Two more survivors of rape come forward to speak about Sopore Paedophile, chilling details emerge

Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sopore, Masarat Roohi heard the case on September 16, 2017. In the hearing, the honourable court observed that the case has taken too much time and that there are numerous statements recorded against the accused.

The CPO while reading out the testimonies in court, said, “There are many statements like these.” He added that “This is sufficient evidence against him.”

The case had to be heard again on September 20, 2017. ‘However, due to strikes in Kashmir, Bar Association’s strike, our judge going to attend a Women’s Day event, the case is not being heard in the court,” says Muntazir.

After Muntazir, two other victims also alleged abuse and shared their stories. One among the two says that over a period of three years, he had been raped 500 times.

Like others, he says that he had health issues including damage and ulceration at the dentate line, a body part far up the rectum.

The fourth victim Siraj (name changed) of Sheikh had suffered before Muntazir. According to Siraj, in 1998-99, when he was around 10 years old, his school had hired Sheikh as a Quran and Arabic teacher. He would praise him often and congratulate Siraj’s parents for having a blessed son. Sheikh had won his family’s trust.

“One day, he had asked my father permission to take me to some school-related work. He agreed. He took me to his leisure house in Dangerpora,” says Siraj recalling how numerous people would come to seek Sheikh’s help to sort out their problem. Sheikh would have one answer: black magic and a child of age 12 or below who would spend a night with him.

Siraj says that at Dangerpora he got to know that he would be sleeping in Sheikh’s room. Before that day, he had never doubted his intentions while he would ask him to hug him.

“That day, he told me I would receive money for doing someone else’s work. When I laid with him in his bed, he asked me to repeat some Arabic verses. I did. I don’t know what those verses meant. When he finished, his body jerked and he acted as if a Jinn had entered his body. And he asked me my name.”

The Jinn had asked him to describe his family issues on behalf of the family, the reason for which he had visited the Sheikh.

“I would not doubt his hugs but that night he became an animal. He asked me to remove my clothes and go closer to him,” recalls Siraj saying that he could feel it was wrong and had denied in the first place. But, Sheikh somehow managed to manipulate him and he took his pants off.

“He then told me to lay my chest on the ground and got on top of me,” Siraj says while mentioning that he had gotten scared and “felt like he would die” while Sheikh had penetrated him.

“I was crying and pleading him to stop. He didn’t. When he was done, he told me not to tell what had happened to anyone and then pretended like the Jinn had left his body.”

After the Jinn had left, Sheikh had asked him what had happened, pretending to not know. Scared to death, Siraj sealed his lips. Sheikh had then checked his privates. However, it wasn’t over.

Later that night, Siraj says, “He started begging me for having sex with him. He told me his wife was far away from him and that he only gets one chance in a week to fulfil his needs.”

Siraj could believe his Jinn story at first. But later that night, he could sense Shiekh’s true colours and expressed his anger over him.
“I told him I will tell the headmaster about him.” Sheikh then changed his statement telling Siraj that ‘he was just testing him.’

“After that, he felt a little uncomfortable with me. He would pick the most chubby and fair kids. One day I was absent from the class and it was a treat for him to get his frustration out. He beat me for staying absent,” recalls Siraj adding that Sheikh would call him to his cabin and bite him on his face.

“It would hurt. He used to rub the teeth marks on my face. Due to lack of knowledge about such issues, we could hardly guess intentions of a person back then. He would give me some pennies to motivate me to do what he wanted. He knew how to manipulate a kid.”

After the incident, Siraj wanted to do something but he couldn’t do much. He could never talk to his family about it. “I don’t want them to feel ashamed. I will have this pain for myself,” he says.

While he would want Sheikh to suffer, many times he would think about his religious teachings that considered it better to leave the revenge part on God  and he believes, “Allah will make him pay.”

Suffocated with the secret, Siraj says, that he decided to call the Child helpline after he had seen an advertisement in a newspaper.  “Victims were asked to call the helpline. I did. But they couldn’t understand me. Finally, it was a Facebook page on ‘Prevent Child Sexual Abuse’ and I got in touch with its admin and shared my story.”

He says that dozens of school children became Sheikh’s victims. “They are coming forward now. But there is this social stigma. We hope people stay aware and no incidents like these happen again. Parents need to be aware.”

Like others, he is hopeful to get justice in the case against him. Advocating the case, Advocate Arzaan Ahmad told Free Press Kashmir that he took an oath to get the victims justice after he had seen pain and agony in eyes of one among them. Though the hearing is not taking place, he says he will continue to follow the parent case lodged against Sheikh on basis of a private complaints he had received.

“That man is very brazen. We have witnesses in the case. Due to circumstances in Kashmir, the hearing is getting delayed by one way or the other. The case involves crimes against the society as a whole and crime against a person. It involves sodomy, a supposed saint indulging in such a despicable crime is particularly unheard of in a conservative society like ours,” says Arzaan.

“It has not only violated a person but trampled the norms, laws and values of our society as a whole. It has permanently affected the psyche of the victims. The court must realize the severity of the crime and punishment be rendered to the offender and justice to the society and the victim. The due course of law must be followed,” he adds.

Regarding the new case in which Sheikh is booked, he says, “The cases are between him and the state. And it is a very strong case.”


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