Braid Chopping: Hang on a second!

The streets of Kashmir have always served as a constant reminder of Kashmir’s volatile, rebellious and conflicting nature. If Kashmiris have thronged them to welcome ‘guests’ disguised as emancipators, then the same streets have become a flash-point, seething with rage. Present times are no different.

What otherwise is being passed as an extension of the frizzled out events in north India is now taking strong roots in the Valley. The general response is obviously reactionary, marked with scare, impulsiveness and hyper-vigilance.

The commoner on the ground is reading a barking pattern behind these unabated events, happening in the run-up to a post-Diwali verdict on Article 35A. The modus operandi is that some people show up at residences, knock the victims unconscious, leave them with a chopped braid and restart a cycle of rage on the streets. That’s how it happens.

This systematic attack on women, who lately unnerved the South Block by regularly marching down the streets, is seen as an attempt to cut the bold rebel to size. But then, all the ground impressions might be passed as yet another form of brewing conspiracy theory shunted out by naysayers.

However, the question to ask here is, despite evolving an ultra efficient mechanism to tackle anti-establishment dissent with perfection over the years, why is the state, seemingly and apparently behaving like a sitting duck over the whole crisis?

When the authorities and their arm of legalities remain clueless about the raging pan-Kashmir phenomenon, it makes the people bearing the brunt of protracted conflict a little suspicious. Under this situation, detaining a rumour-monger is good, but what about the emboldened prowlers?

Reports after reports of fresh incidents are coming by the hour, and till these queries are not answered, dismissing it as mass hysteria and subsequently sweeping it under the rug might not help.

And where only a serious and credible investigation—if any—will reveal the motive behind this systematic crime, adopting a mob approach on the streets is no solution. Manning the streets like vigilantes, to an extent of creating a shadow of suspicion out of every moving soul isn’t going to end this mess.

It’s like terrorising the terrorised. Vigilance is the need of the hour, but not at the cost of pestering people.

Already some of our impulsive actions have created an ugly spate of upshots. A five-year-old boy, Sifti Hyder from Pulwama, is battling for his life after being hit by a stone. This street harrying is troubling and escalating.

Even being lunatics and lovers in these times has become a bane. All this calls for a collective rethink. The tag of being a politically-mature population demands wisdom to see beyond the obvious.

Braid-chopping might be another form of the great game, many of which this land has seen and endured, but we must restrain ourselves from creating a situation where we blur the line between an arsonist and a fireman.

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