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'Braid-chopping' Sparks Fear and Unrest

Police Asked to Step In To Restore Shaken Faith Of People

Srinagar—There seems to be no end to the mysterious braid chopping incidents as a number of fresh incidents Thursday added to chaos already gripping the Valley.

There were fresh protests as news along with rumours spread like wild fires bringing people out in the streets.

Fresh braid chopping incidents were reported from Batamaloo, Palapora Noorbagh and Umarheer localities of Srinagar city on Thursday.

The braid chopping incident in Batamaloo sparked clashes while a large number of men and women hit the road and shouted anti-police and anti-government slogans.

The incident was reported from SD Colony Batmaloo in the afternoon. Earlier a similar incident in the colony was reported on Tuesday.

People also took to roads at Palapora Noorbagh against a braid cutting incident. In Nowgam, police resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters who were demanding action against the braid choppers.

According to BMO Wakoora Ganderbal, Dr Waseem people brought a minor girl there whose had been chopped off.

“The girl told us that two unknown persons forced their entry in her home, caught hold of her and chopped her braid,” he said, clarifying that there was no issue of using spray on the girl.

Meanwhile, situation in Wakoora area turned ugly when police and forces used teargas shells against the people who caught hold of two people allegedly involved in braid chopping.

Some persons forced their entry in the home of a 17-year-old girl in Wakoora area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district and cut her hair, according to a report by KNS.

“Some unknown persons today chopped braid of a 17-year old girl after they forced their entry in her home,” report said, adding that the girl (name withheld) was later shifted to local primary health centre for medical checkup.

As the number of these incidents is increasing rapidly with the administration having failed so far to nab any of the culprits, a sense of fair has gripped denizens of the Valley.

At least 200 women in Kashmir have reported being attacked by masked assailants in the last two months.

The women claimed the attackers sprayed chemicals on their faces and left them unconscious. Upon waking up, they found their hair had been chopped off.

The first braid-chopping incident in Kashmir was reported on September 6, when a schoolgirl, Naira Nazir, was attacked.

While police has failed to nab any culprits it has filed at least 40 FIR’s against people it accuses of spreading rumours.

Top police officials privately confess that they can do little except hope the incidents "will vanish soon" as they did elsewhere in India.

However, in Kashmir people have started openly questioning the governments lacklustre attitude towards a problem which has pushed all other issues in the background.

The skepticism was evident during protests which took place on Thursday in various places across Kashmir.

Students of Kashmir University (KU) and Central University Kashmir (CUK) Thursday held protests raising anti-India slogans.

KU Students protesting against unabated attacks- Photo Faisal Bhat

Scores of students putting in hostels assembled on the Kashmir University premises and chanted slogans against the braid chopping incidents. The KU students accused police of being behind these incidents.

At CUK students also raised slogans in favor of Azadi and alleged that the Government of India was behind such incidents in Kashmir.

Carrying banners and placards, the students chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The placards read: ‘end mysterious braid chopping’, ‘bring culprits to book’, and ‘end molestation of women in Kashmir.’

Students also raised slogans against the incumbent government and the police for their incompetence in nabbing the culprits. “Police do not leave a single stone unturned when they have to nab a stone pelter, why have they turned so incompetent now,” a student told the protesting gathering.

The locals of Banpora Naikbagh in Nowgam area also staged protest against the braid chopping incidents. The women protesters took to streets and blocked the roads for several minutes amid chanting anti-government slogans.

A protest against braid chopping in Press Colony Srinagar. File Photo- Faisal Bhat

Police Asked to Step In

Meanwhile Chairperson, J&K State Commission for Women Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor Thursday urged police to step in and restore the shaken faith and confidence of the people in the system.

With the view to deliberate upon and suggest measures to address the issues arising out of the incidents of braid chopping, representatives from the civil society, education, police, media etc participated in the open session. At the outset, Mehjoor expressed serious concern over the growing incidents of braid cutting which she said has given rise to fear psychosis and apprehensions in the society.

The representative from the police informed that around hundred such cases have been reported from different districts of the valley in which FIR’s have been lodged.

After thorough deliberations, at least six suggestions were made for addressing the issue during the session.

The participated suggested that police needs to step in to reassure the public that the “perception about the infiltration of invisible elements or hands having crept into the society for creating such a situation is not based on facts. This is important for restoring the shaken faith and confidence of the people in the system”.

The government through the health department, they said, should also clear the air about the chemical spray and its adverse health impacts in the long run, as has the rumour spread among some sections of population.

“The special investigation teams of police and the committees formed by the government at the district level for the purpose should share outcome of their findings in such cases with the Commission on a regular basis.”

In the fourth suggestion, they proposed that the government should also involve and associate the State Commission for Women and the civil society, wherever and whenever such incidents are reported.

“The top brass of the police need to sensitize their officials at the middle / lower rung to take the reports/ incidents of braid chopping very seriously, as the confusion and chaos on this account has the potential of vitiating peace in the valley,” they said.

6 rumour mongers arrested

Srinagar police arrested six rumour mongers for spreading rumours of braid chopping in the vicinity of Batamaloo.

These rumour mongers were taking advantage of braid chopping incidents to instigate general public for protests and to motivate the youth of Batamaloo area to pelt stones upon deployed security forces in Batamaloo area.

The basic aim of these detained rumour mongers was to disrupt peace and tranquility of the valley, so that the people of the locality take out processions against government.

Keeping in view the gravity of rumours of braid chopping, all these six rumour mongers have been arrested in case FIR number 163/2017 of Police Station Batamaloo.


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