Since 1988, Kashmir has been passing through an overwhelming situation. With the society and systems in place completely preoccupied in managing and surviving crisis, many changes took place and were not noticed. Even faith was no exception.
Faith healers in Kashmir predate the advent of Islam. At a later stage, faith-healing and disease management became just one profession that witnessed tremendous growth in absence of medical sciences that Christian missionaries introduced. Sections within faith healers resorting to satanic ways and means are the nasty footnotes in Kashmir’s history of superstition.
But the one that was recently exposed is the worst of all. Enraged Kashmir does not seem to have option other than being dumbfounded. The man at the centre of this mess, a carpet weaver, has created his own clout and cadre across Kashmir, amassed millions of rupees and collected hundreds of girls from the weaker sections of the society under the garb of imparting them the moral and spiritual education. It was this vulnerable lot that was exploited. A few of these victims were encouraged within the cult to blow the whistle.
The other part of the tragic story is how this conman lacking mandatory basics of the faith successfully superimposed a new model and code among his gullible and superstitious followers. An evil genius indeed. As cops are trying to unravel the enigma, the society demands answers to many questions.
How this nasty thing can happen for such a long time without getting noticed? How such a huge number of girls were assembled in a hamlet and nobody from the system or the society asked even a single question? What were the clergy doing all these years when this man was moving around in cavalcades much bigger than the Chief Minister’s? Could not they detect it when his preaching lacked a reference to the text or the practice? There are reports of some officials also being part of the web though police investigation is yet to offer any major lead on that front.
Apparently, it is a major crime story. The systems in place have taken cognizance of it and hopefully will solve it at the earliest. They also would require offering an answer to how this institution was created, for what and who registered it? But the larger condemnation is on the clergy that is more interested in issuing self-serving decrees rather than safeguarding the faith which otherwise should have been their main priority.
It is heartening to note that the society did not react to the expose the way it has been responding. Self doubt seems to have played the trick and that is good because it prevented any losses, human or otherwise. But the incident should open the eyes of the self styled custodians of faith. It seems they have lost any contact with the masses because of the increasing commercialization of faith. They are much bigger culprits than Gulzar Bhat and must take the moral responsibility.