Braid Cutting

‘Mass hysteria’ or horrific reality: Four women with chopped jewels detail the devil

Just outside her home, the boys are running after the suspicious shadows. Down the streets, they sit, fuming, scanning every passerby. Three days ago, some braid choppers struck in this placid place called Bonipora Nowgam and knocked down one homemaker unconscious with a chopped braid at her side.

Today, Muzamil, 32, is shell-shocked. Ever since the news of braid chopping spread in Kashmir, she was exercising the caution. But on Wednesday—Oct 11, 2017—the ghosts came knocking at her doorsteps and threw her caution to the winds.

Swarmed by the alarmed yet angry relatives, she recalls the fateful day like a comatose person.

Muzamil. (FPK Photo/Masrat Jan)

“I was upstairs,” she mumbles, “with my 5-year-old daughter. It was probably 10:15pm. It was then they stormed so sudden, so shocking that I froze.” The next thing she remembers was the manner they snatched her daughter and chopped off her hair.

As the word spread, rage spilled over the streets keeping the townspeople on toes. Three days on, they are still sitting on patrol. While they play the cops outside, Muzamil and her shocked self inside pricks the canard theory of “mass hysteria”.

Miles away in Fateh Kadal, the mood is militant. A few ‘on the loose’ men showed up in this congested locality nestled on Jhelum banks on Oct 11 and chopped the hair of a Class 10 student. Days back, the woebegone girl was talking about the Kashmir’s new agony and advising her friends to stay alert. But on Oct 11, an unknown person came and made her a new target.

Kousain Aijaz. (FPK Photo/Masrat Jan)

Around 2:30pm that day, she was sprayed and knocked unconscious. Since then, Kousain Aijaz is getting restless. The trauma is taking toll on her tender nerves. The very sight is driving her mother mad with fury. “What is Mehbooba Mufti doing? Isn’t she having daughters? Will she only act when someone will chop her own daughters’ braids? And what does she mean by this ‘mass hysteria’? Does she mean all Kashmiris have suddenly gone mad? She is only safeguarding her chair by allowing agencies to toy with our daughters’ honour at will.”

A day after cutting the schoolgirl’s jewel, the braid chopper surfaced at Waganpora Iddgah, Srinagar. This time, the target was Khalida. That day, around 12:00pm, she was sleeping in her kitchen after taking medicines for her heart ailment. It was then, she says, the braid chopper barged in.

Khalida. (FPK Photo/Masrat Jan)

An hour later, when she woke up, she found one of her two braids chopped with foul smell coming from her clothes. She screamed over the shocking scene. The whole neighbourhood got mobilized and the anger spread.

No different scenes are at display at Batamaloo which is in a grip of series of braid chopping incidents. In the interiors of Hilal Colony, Tasleema, 32, is wailing.

Tasleema. (FPK Photo/Masrat Jan)

She recalls a man who forced his way to her home, sprayed her and chopped off her hair. She was busy with her family chores when the attack happened. She tried running upstairs. “But that person put my son’s school-tie around my neck from behind and chopped off my hair,” she recalls.

Clearly, too many questions are being raised at the moment than answered by the authorities who pass it as the case of “mass hysteria”.


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