October 2017 News

Braid Chopping: Mystery Deepens; Panic Mounts, Police Clueless

16 October 2017
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: With no let up in braid chopping incidents in Kashmir Valley, protests rocked many more areas, including the heart of Srinagar city on Monday while reports of fresh incidents came in from Sopore and Pampore areas of Northern and Southern parts of Valley. Meanwhile people in many areas had sleepless nights with wild rumours making rounds. Police on the other hand remained adamant ruling out criminal angle and dismissing allegations that the security agencies themselves manufactured the crisis to deflect attention from the larger issues. Eyewitnesses said that students from Islamia College in Hawal clashed with government forces after they hit the roads and staged protest against increasing braid chopping incidents. Police used tear-smoke shelling to disperse the protesting students. The clashes disrupted vehicular movement on the roads for some time. Students alleged that government has not been taking the braid chopping issue seriously while police have been making no efforts to trace the criminals involved in such acts. Protesting students also raised pro-freedom slogans. Clashes also erupted in Habakadal area of Srinagar city where protesters pelted stones on government forces who retaliated with tear-smoke shelling. Normal life was affected due to clashes and protests. Protesters were demanding the arrest of braid choppers. They alleged that braid choppers are people working for security agencies. The life was disrupted in Maisuma locality of Srinagar city as well after protests and clashes against continuous braid chopping incidents broke out there. Shopkeepers lowered their shutters even in city centre Lal Chowk and Residency Road. Police used pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse rock hurling protesters. The clashes created panic in the area. A couple of persons including a photo journalist Suhail Ahmed was wounded. Suhail suffered pellet injuries. Reports said that youth enforced a shutdown and pelted stones on shops and vehicles in North Kashmir's Sopore town after a fresh braid chopping incident was reported there. Reports said that a woman of Ningli area of Sopore, in her fifties, said unknown persons overpowered her and chopped off her braid. This is the third such incident in the area in less than twenty-four hours. On Sunday, two women said their braids were chopped off by unknown persons. Reports said that youth took to streets and pelted the forces deployed in the town with stones. They also enforced shutdown in the town by hurling rocks at the passing vehicles. However, life returned to normal after a couple of hours while shopkeepers opened up their shops and transport plied normally. Protesters in South Kashmir, blocked Srinagar-Jammu highway near Awantipora, demanding arrest of culprits involved in braid chopping incidents. Eyewitnesses said that police rushed to spot to pacify the protesters who alleged that police have failed to nab the culprits so far. The protesters according to reports dispersed peacefully after getting assurances from police. Reports from South Kashmir's Pulwama district said that two fresh braid chopping incidents were reported from Nikus and Dangarpora villages of the district. The fresh incidents created fear among people. Pertinently, over a 100 incidents of braid chopping have occurred in different parts of Kashmir Valley during the past month while police remains clueless. The victims have told their families and police that unknown persons cut their hair after knocking them unconscious with some spray. The police have formed Special Investigation Teams to probe the incidents. However, so far the police and the authorities have been clueless. The police have announced a reward of Rs six lakh for credible information leading to arrest of any person behind braid chopping incidents. So far, no arrests have been made. At several places, vigilante mobs have thrashed innocents mistaking them for braid choppers.