Braid chopping: 5 reported in a day in Doda, Psychiatrists say incidents born out of mass hysteria

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M Majid Malik

Doda

At least 5 new cases of braid chopping were reported in the Doda area including Assar and  Charlla  on Wednesday, four of them in Assar alone.

In Assar, Sunita (35) of Halya village claimed she had a strange dream around afternoon after which she fell unconscious. She found her braid chopped off when she woke up, she said. Her husband Raj Kumar said they are in a state of panic since they are unable to get any clue how this happened.

Manju Devi (37) of Jattar claimed that her braid was chopped off when she was working in a room. She claimed to have seen a shadow around after which she fell unconscious. “When Iwoke up, I found my braid chopped off.”

Paplu Devi of Kutharya said she was working outside her home and heard the sound of scissors snapping and found her braid chopped in the evening.

Sunita Devi, of village Hallyian village of Assar also claimed that her braid was chopped off on Wednesday and she is unaware of how incident happened.

Rinku Devi wife off Bipen Kumar resident of Shhirmitu, Charala Doda  had reported similar case.

Police said they would soon crack the cases as they were working on different theories. The SHOs concerned and officials of these areas conducted preliminary investigations. “We are working on different angles to ascertain the basic cause of such incidents. Soon, we will crack the mystery,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Doda Muhammad Shabir Khatana.

Police has sent samples of the hair cut to the forensic laboratory in Srinagar, he informed.

It is worthwhile to mention here that a  series of bizarre incidents, where women’s braids are mysteriously being cut off, have been reported from several parts of  Doda district over the last few weeks especially some villages of Bhaderwah and Doda have been hit by an eerie form of crime.

Mysterious men and women are reportedly chopping off women’s braids. The victims range from young ladies to elderly citizens. The cut braids are left on the scene, and no theft or any external injury has been reported in any case.

The victims usually reported acute pain in their head and then fell unconscious, with some needing hospitalisation. The bizarre cases of braid chopping have created an unprecedented panic in the affected areas which including Bhaderwah, Doda, Assar and Charlla and left women and children terror-stricken.

The incidents are on the rise with no remedy in sight.  Police in Bhaderwah and other areas quizzed many beggars and suspects but failed to crack the growing cases of ghost-like appearances and sudden occurrences of braid cutting.

According to reports, at least 10 cases of braid chopping have been reported so far in the Doda region.

Psychiatrists, however, believe these incidents are born out of mass hysteria. “There is nothing like black magic or a mysterious man coming and chopping braids. It’s mass hysteria, a kind of hysteria when a person gets into an altered state which brings out varied responses. And with anxiety, they start believing what they have read around them. It could be out of guilt, or fear or simply neurosis. This is where the patient does things to themselves without any physiological reason. It’s their way of becoming important, something different, or grabbing the limelight or doing it just for thrill,” Dr Madhumati Singh, a Psychiatrist based in Delhi told Kashmir Life.

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