The rape of a minor in Mattan area of south Kashmir by a self styled Pir has agonizingly shocked the people. The pain of the 13 year old, who was intimidated of dire consequences by the Pir, was felt by her parents only after eight months, when her belly started growing abnormally. Only an USG could satisfy the parents of the child that she is pregnant. The faith of her parents on the piety and spiritual powers of the Pir was so overwhelming that the frequent complaints of the girl fell on their deaf ears. The irony of the situation is that rather than believing their own child, her parents took the girl to the same person for faith-healing, who had raped her.
The tragedy is not new to valley. Many frauds using the cover of faith have in the past exploited the innocence of the locals in the name of treating their physical and spiritual ailments. While many such incidents of exploitation are never reported, some tragedies do find place in the newsprint.
By and large people in valley blindly follow Pirs, given the nature of their faith. Even a naked beggar on a roadside is sometimes taken as a faith healer and believed to possess spiritual powers and people start paying obeisance to him. Some years back a naked insane person from outside valley, who used to lie on the footpath adjoining Exhibition crossing, attracted the attention of many people for they believed in his supernatural powers. Thanks to police that they nipped the evil in the bud.
The brutal rape of a student in Delhi recently that shook the civil society to its roots has strengthened the case of capital punishment for perpetrators of crimes against women like rapes. During the momentum people went on to the extent of employing the sharia law of Sangsar against the rapists.
The crime of the Pir from south Kashmir is grave. Firstly, the victim is a minor and the rapist grand-fathers a dynasty. As she is at the threshold of her teenage, the fraudster’s victimization will make her haunt for the rest of her life and most impact her faith as well as her future.
Secondly the crime was committed by a person who has used the garb of faith to be what he is.
Faith-healers in Kashmiri society have a special significance. Our social structure is fabricated along several such institutions that sometimes border the superstition. The Pir-Muridi institution that gets perpetuated here generations after generations, has further stratified the social set-up strictly on basis of the commerce it generates. The crime of the scandalous Pir is actually a crime against these spiritual moorings of our society.
In the context of the growing incidents of rapes in the state, the south Kashmir Pir should be given an exemplary punishment, no less than death penalty. The judiciary should not only take note of the age of the victim, but the larger implications involved in the crime. The writing on the wall should be bold and clear; rapes in no circumstances are acceptable to Kashmiri society. And rape by anybody wearing a faith-mask is a murder at the outset. Hang him.