Srinagar: Massive protests against incidents of braid chopping were reported from different parts of the valley on Friday.
A protest march was taken out from Abi Guzar to Press Enclave, with activists demanding an end to the unabated braid-chopping incidents. Similar protests were reported in Soura area of Srinagar as well. Stone-pelting was reported from Natipora and Nowgam areas, where government forces fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters. Media reports also said youths in Anantnag district took to the roads and pelted government troops with stones at Reshi Bazar, Mattan Chowk, and Cheeni Chowk.
Internet services were suspended yesterday while restrictions were imposed in different parts of the Valley. No Friday prayers were allowed at the historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of Srinagar.
The panic and mass hysteria created by these attacks have led to violent vigilantism with locals and non-locals alike bearing the brunt of public’s anger.
Yesterday a cross-dressed Kashmiri man was apprehended by locals near Zero Bridge in Srinagar. The man was accused of being a braid-chopper and thrashed by the public. However, the man was saved from further harm by the police who later issued a statement saying the man was mentally unwell and not a braid chopper.
In another similar incident, a non-local was mistaken as a braid-chopper and thrashed by people in Sumbal area of north Kashmir. The youth was later handed over to the police who revealed that upon questioning, it was found that the said person was mentally unstable. The man was then immediately taken to a health facility where doctor advised psychiatric treatment for him.
Yesterday the people in Kujjar area of Ganderbal district mistook a youth as a braid-chopper and thrashed him. Acting on a tip-off, the police intervened and took the youth into custody. On police questioning, the youth from Khalmulla village revealed that he was in the area to meet his girlfriend.
In another incident of vigilantism, panic-stricken locals of Ishber locality in Nishat area apprehended two men whom they suspected of being braid-cutters. Police intervened to save both the civilians, though both were beaten to a pulp. Both civilians turned out to be locals as well.
In yet another incident in Budgam district of Kashmir Valley, a youth was caught and beaten up by the locals on suspicion of being a braid chopper. The youth was taken into police custody where he revealed he was only “looking for marijuana“.
The police on Friday said that a reported case of braid-chopping from Anantnag district was found to be baseless. They said that the investigation into the incident of 16-year- old girl, a resident of Badhran and a student of class X turned out to be fabricated. The police revealed that the girl was found unconscious and referred to District Hospital Anantnag where medical examinations revealed that her hair had not been chopped. The police added that the story was made up by the girl herself.
The police said that they had cracked a reported case of braid-chopping from Hydepora in Srinagar district, a young girl whose braid had been chopped off. The police said their investigations revealed that the girl’s hair had been chopped off by a housemaid who committed the act because she was facing ill-treatment from the family.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, while talking to Kashmir Reader said, “We investigated the case of another lady who turned out to be a psychiatric patient. She said she was having a bath when the braid chopper came and cut her hair. But the windows and doors were closed. The question is how did the chopper make his way inside the bathroom when everything is locked? In Ganderbal, a hair-chopping incident was reported. It turned out to be fake.”
He added that the police had taken cognizance of 23 cases of braid chopping, mainly in Srinagar, out of which only one, in central Kashmir, turned out to be true. He also said that all the accused handed over to them by the people were found to be innocent.
In another incident of reported braid chopping at Saidpora, Noorbagh the police revealed that the victim was sleeping in her room when her hair was cut. On police investigation it was found that a maid who was also sleeping in the room had cut victim’s braid.
“During the questioning of accused maid, she revealed that she was being taunted by victim and her mother which upset her. The accused maid said that she got mentally disturbed and keeping in view the braid chopping incidents she thought it was an opportune time to cut the victim’s hair,” the DIG Bhat said. “This is a recorded statement. In this case we had a small support from the family. In rest of the cases we have not been provided support by victims or their close relatives.”
The police have registered an FIR against rumor mongers in Pattan area of Baramulla district. One arrest has been made in the case.
Police on Friday also registered a case against a neitizen for posting an image of a student on a social networking site wherein the accused had called him a braid chopper.
A braid chopping incident on Friday were reported from Chattisinghpora village of Anantnag district. Massive protests also broke out at Pantha Chowk on Srinagar outskirts after a woman alleged that unknown persons cut her braid. In yet another incident, a woman at Azad Basti, Natipora also alleged that unknown persons cut her braid. In another incident in Zafrran Colony area, when two women who were walking on the road were allegedly chased by the two youth on a motorbike. Local media reported that one of the women fainted on the spot, triggering panic across the area.
A braid chopping attempt was foiled at Beerwah town in Budgam where a middle-aged woman was attacked by some unidentified men late on Friday evening. The woman fought off the attackers and sustained minor injuries to her face
On Friday evening, another woman was allegedly attacked at Darwan Nowgam village at Charar-Sharief. The locals came to her rescue after she raised an alarm.