SRINAGAR, OCT 13———–Braid-chopping incidents have terrified Kashmiri people, especially women folk, due to the mystery surrounding the issue which was first reported from the desert state of Rajasthan in north India. However, in Kashmir Valley, things have taken ugly turn because most people believe government was responsible for the scare, even as the doctors and psychologists blame hysteria for the braid-chopping.
What do we know so far about the braid chopping in Kashmir? Read on.
Police have acknowledged that over 100 incidents of braid chopping have been reported so far from the Kashmir Valley. It has also failed to make any arrests so far in the case. Even though a Special Investigation Team has been formed, police is so far clueless. A cash reward of six lakh rupees has been announced on any credible information leading to arrest of the braid choppers. All the alleged braid choppers handed over to police have been found innocent.
Separatist groups have accused the police and other security agencies of helping the alleged braid choppers. They have called for protests and shutdown against the braid-chopping incidents. They have accused the government of failing to provide security to women. However, the government claims that the “anti-national” elements were behind the incidents. They claim that these elements were trying to raise tempers and trigger anti-government protests in the Valley.
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has termed the braid chopping as a “ploy by Indian agencies to track the movement of militants”. Naikoo, in a purported audio message, said that braid chopping is an “Indian ploy” meant to scare people in the Valley. Braid chopping is an Indian ploy to scare people and keep them away from militants. As you know that militants have successfully hid their movement since past two months and agencies have failed to trace them,” he says, in the audio, released on social media. “This is a new propaganda to trace them [militants]”.
Naikoo said that government agencies know that people would raise an alarm out of fear when militants try to enter a house. “This will expose the movement of militants and it will be easy to trace them,” he said, quickly adding: “but, thanks to Allah, all ploys of the enemies will fail again, like before.”
Women have staged protests against the braid-chopping at several places in the Valley. Some of them, whose loved ones have been attacked, have even threatened to pick up the gun. Anger against the government, especially Mehbooba Mufti, herself a woman, has been increasing with every passing day. “When Mehbooba Mufti, herself a woman, can’t provide security to the women, she has no right to head the government,” said a woman protester in Downtown Srinagar.
Psychologists and police have blamed hysteria for the braid-chopping incidents. They reason that thousands of such incidents have been reported from various parts of India and mass hysteria has been found to be the reason. Quoting a case of a teenage girl in Baramulla, they said that the girl was suffering from a psychiatric disorder and that led to the chopping of her hair. However, women on the other hand say that their hair was cut after somebody sprayed a chemical on their face that knocked them unconscious.
Vigilante mobs in towns and villages have caught and severely beaten up many innocent people suspecting them to be the alleged braid choppers. Not only the locals, some tourists had to face the fire. Two tourists from Delhi and Gurgaon were mercilessly thrashed in Ganderbal area after they were mistaken for braid choppers. A 70-year-old man was killed after a brick was hurled at him in Anantnag district of south Kashmir. Vigilantes mistook the man who had went out of house to answer the call of nature as a braid chopper.
Locals question why police and other security agencies with all their resource manage are unable to nab the culprits. They allege that the forces arrest youth involved in stone-pelting within days, but the delay in arresting braid choppers shows they are somewhere complicit in the crime.