The room smelled of charcoal. The lanterns simmered as the Peer stood in front of it, a huge shadow cast behind. His silhouette gleamed at the sides with a back light, his robe flaring with the wind coming through a half-open window, fire in his eyes.
The boy was down on his knees in front of the Peer. He couldn’t look up—the Peer was possessed and you would burn if you looked into his eyes.
The Djinn was taking over the Peer, and Djinns could do anything, even slit the throat of the boy’s family.
This was no play. The Djinn knew everything about the boy—his past, his future—he could gaze into his soul, look past him, and burn his house if he lied. You couldn’t lie, you just couldn’t hide anything.
The boy kept looking down, shivering. No one would want to stand against the Djinn and no one could come to his rescue. He was at the mercy of the demon of fire, and he had to stay—to help solve the problems of his family. This was dark magic, and the Djinns only worked in the night. And it was only the boy who could help rescue his family from the curse.
It’s a sunny day.
Standing outside the court, the man fiddles with his phone as he walks in the corridor leading to a wooden door, numbered on the top. He waits for the call from a media person, things wouldn’t move otherwise. Someone important has to pull the strings. He takes a seat beside the creaky table. He fiddles with his phone again.
Aijaz Sheikh, the peer, is out on bail and there is nothing that can be done now.
Two years ago, when the man had talked to his wife about it, still believing the Djinn would return and hunt him down, pin him to the floor and slit his throat, she had been perplexed.
“Really, what Djinn are you talking about,” she had asked. “Tell me clearly, what did he do to you?”
The lawyer walks in. “Hello! I was asked to meet you here, regarding the peer, am I right?” The man nods.
Several hours and trips later, the lawyer comes again with a dusty file and hands over some documents to the man. “You can have the Xerox copy,” he says. “But it’s been so long, there isn’t much you can do. You are wasting your time.”
The Djinn has taken full possession of the Peer’s body. It is just the boy and the Djinn now. The curse on his family can only be broken by the Djinn. But there is a price to pay. There is always a price. And the boy is ready, his little hands trembling.
The Djinn speaks, his voice heavy. It mixes with the smoke from the lanterns. “You can’t hide anything from me, I know everything,” the Djinn says.
The boy is ready to reveal his secrets, even the time he touched himself.
“You have sinned, and your family is suffering because you have denied a life. Now you must offer more life and plant it inside me. Are you ready?”
There is nothing the boy can do. He has to pay for his sin. He has to penetrate the Djinn, but he can’t. His body just wouldn’t respond.
The Djinn makes a counter offer: he will penetrate the boy.
The peer is already a free man, the bail is granted to him, but the case is to be heard again, by another Judge. It was almost done, the peer was behind bars, he couldn’t hurt more young boys anymore, till the time militant commander Burhan Wani was alive. His death spelled a doom to a lot of young men and the system collapsed. The man couldn’t follow up with the case, his abuser was free, and he was helpless.
The man’s uncle who had taken him to the Peer had no idea then. He was just trying to solve the problems his business was facing. It was famous in the village that the Peer could solve all problems, he had Djinns who could fix things. It was all a lie.
“Let us see what happens during the hearing. Justice is a big word,” the lawyer says. He moves the files to the side, crosses his arms, and leans back into his chair.
The man’s pulse is racing. He has lost his sleep again. Ram Rahim was jailed, there was new hope. The other victims were not as willing to speak out of fear. Society doesn’t accept such people, he thinks.
“Why do you take so much time in the bathroom?” the man’s family had asked laughing, to the younger brother, who the man now knows, was also sent to the Peer.
He can almost imagine the younger brother sitting on the pot, bleeding.
The Djinn makes the boy shed his clothes after a few rounds of possession and de-possession, changing between Kashmiri and Urdu, each time.
The boy clutches his fist as the Djinn makes him bend, pulls his underpants down and forces himself in, pain blurring the lines between reality and fiction, the breath of the Djinn gaining pace as he violates him, each thrust making him want to cry, the Djinn’s hand on his mouth making him suffocate in helplessness. He had to pay for his sin, and no one could know, the Djinn had made it clear.
Having finished, the Djinn leaves and the Peer returns: “What did you speak to the Djinn about,” he asks.
The boy curls in pain in a dark corner.
The man shuffles through the documents as he is reminded of the time the police raided the house of the Peer. A young boy, the Peer’s relative, visibly violated, was found in the house.
One of the cops had forced a camera into the small boy’s face. “What does the Peer do to you? Will you speak or not?” he had shouted at the boy too scared to speak.
The man looks at the file: FIR number 22/2016, section 377 RPC. Another page says: Case FIR number 4513/N40, police station Bomai, Sopore. One after the other, endless pages in Urdu, he tries to read the testimonies.
There were many, like the times when he was made to perform the act on other young boys, much younger than him, sometimes in groups, while the Peer posing as the Djinn would watch with his hands on his penis, moving them up and down.
Young bodies, one on top of the other, too scared to disobey the peer.
“There is no Djinn, how did you even believe it? You have been raped!” the wife had told him. Then it had dawned, as he broke down.
He met many others—hotel owners, business professionals, now old, some still young, some abroad, others in Kashmir, some freshly violated—fifteen years after the man was repeatedly raped, over two thousand boys he thinks, in a span of 15 years.
A recent survivor, a boy now working as a labourer whose testimony was recorded in court, works in a fruit market.
Shifting boxes of apples, he thinks about taking off his school uniform and going to the Peer to solve his family’s problems, some years back. He should have studied more, he thinks, as he keeps shifting boxes of apples.
Aijaz Sheikh, the peer, out on bail, passes by in a car. The boy stands and watches it go by, wondering if there’s another young boy being taken to the Peer tonight.
Disclaimer: All incidents in the story are based on witness testimonies recorded in court. The FIR numbers are real, and the court case is ongoing.
Currently the accused is out on interim bail, on grounds that he needs to be free to prepare his defence, which was resisted by the Police.
More testimonies of rape allegations came in the form of emails, to SSP Sopore, by Kashmiri men working abroad, revealing their identities.
The case is to be heard again on September 16, 2017.