Rape Survivors Demand Re-arrest,protest Against Gulzar Peer

15 February 2015
Kashmir Dispatch

Srinagar: 'The local court has violated the guidelines of the Supreme Court of India by releasing the rapist Gulzar Pir. We are shocked why and on what basis rapist Gulzar was acquitted by the court. We will challenge the decision of Principal and District Session Judge's verdict and will appeal High Court to immediately re-arrest the Gulzar Peer,' These were the remarks of five erstwhile female students of Gulzar Bhat who according to these students raped them in his seminary located at Shamsabad area of Central Kashmir's Budgam district. Rape accused faith healer from Central Kashmir's Budgam district who was arrested by police on charges of rape in May 2013 was acquitted by a local court on February 12 this month, apparently due to 'lack of evidence and discrepancy in the investigation.' While acquitting Gulzar Ahmed Bhat son Ghulam Qadir Bhat of Latter Chadur (Shamasabad) Khan Sahib the Principal and District Sessions judge Budgam, Syed Tauqeer stated that, 'considering the oral as well as other evidence brought on record, it can be safely concluded that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the guilt of the accused.' Sessions Judge Budgam had earlier framed rape charges against the accused and had said that case would be taken up on fast track basis. An FIR vide number 40-2013 under section 376 RPC had been registered against the accused in police station Khansahab and from May 2013 he was behind the bar in Srinagar Central Jail. A group of girls claimed to be the rape victims of Gulzar Bhat appeared at media hub Srinagar and staged a peaceful protest. The group of girls while talking to reporters alleged that Gulzar sexually exploited them at his seminary and it came a shock to them that despite recording their statements in the court against him, he was not awarded any punishment but was released only after 18 months of imprisonment. 'This is the murder of the justice and we are all shocked. Police conducted our medical examination that proved rape and yet he (Gulazar Bhat) was released,' one of the protestors said, adding that they failed to understand on what grounds the 'Dajjal' was released. 'He raped at least over 40 girls in his so called 'Hujra-e-Khas', so we wonder how he has been released,' said one of the protesting girls. When asked why only five girls came forward to complain against Gulzar, they said, 'twenty-six girls stood witness in favour of Gulzar saying he has done nothing to them, but we know that Gulzar has also not even spared them.' The protesting 'rape victims' added that they will challenge the local courts verdict in High Court and will seek stringent punishment against the 'fake faith-healer'. 'We appeared before the court and recorded our statements against Gulzar Bhat. We fail to understand why Court did not take our recorded statements seriously and pave way for Gulzar's release. We are dead sure that his so-called affluent followers spent money to ensure his 'illegal' release,' they alleged. The protesting girls were aghast as to why their medical certificates also were not given any weight by the Budgam court. 'We had produced our medical tests as well but that too were not considered by the court so we have decided to knock the door of the state High court against Gulzar and the Budgam court decision.' They appealed the civil society to help them in getting justice and 'saving other girls'. The protesting girls said that Gulzar has his followers who help and guide him. 'One girl from Uri, Khalida, another from Shamsabad namely Naseema and Jabeena are among the girls who help Gulzar,' the protesting girls alleged.