Braid chopping in Uri; Victim family claims ‘choppers’ were dressed in ‘army fatigues’

Srinagar

In a first incident of braid chopping in border area of Uri in Baramulla district, suspected braid choppers in the wee hours of Wednesday chopped the hair of a teenage girl at Bandi area of the township, local sources said. Uri has a massive military presence.

The victim girl was identified as Shaista Karim, daughter of Abdul Karim. She is 18 years old.

The mother of the teenage girl told Kashmir Life that she along with her daughter were sleeping in a room in ground floor of their under construction house. “First floor of our house is complete and in a living condition while the second floor is under construction,” she said.

Rashida Begum, mother of Shaista.

At around 2:30 am in the morning, Rashida Begum, the mother of the girl said, “My daughter went to washroom to attend the call of nature. As soon as she went closer to the washroom, two men came down the stairs from our second floor. As my daughter tried to escape one of the two men caught hold of her and blocked her mouth with his hand, while the other person cut off her hair.” They later ran away.

Shaista said that as the braid choppers let her loose and started running away, she raised alarm. “My mother came rushing in to check what had happened.”

Begum said that she found the braid of her daughter on the floor. “Meanwhile, my other children too came out of the room adjacent to the room where we were sleeping.” By then, Shaista started vomiting, but didn’t fell unconscious.

“We rushed to the second story of the house. On the road we noticed army vehicles were stationed. The army men yelled at us as to what had happened,” Begum said.

She said: “When we told them that two ‘men in uniform’ had chopped off the hair of our daughter, they started their vehicles and went away.”

The victim girl, Shaista said that she saw two men in army fatigues who came rushing to her. “They were in army uniform and wore army boots (black colour),” she said. “The footprints of the army shoes are still on the stair cases and second floor of our under construction house.”

The village headman (numberdar) Bandi told Kashmir Life that the area is under continuous watch of army and police. “If they are not able to secure us us, we will take our own decisions.”

“We have licenced guns. If police and army fail to protect the honour and dignity of our mothers and sisters, we will use the guns and shoot whoever comes closer to our houses,” he said.

Meanwhile, MLA Uri, Muhammad Shafi has condemned the braid chopping incident. He demanded immediate inquiry into the incident.

A police official in Uri told Kashmir Life that the police are investigating the matter. When asked why the army was stationed on the main road, he said that there is a high alert for last 20 days in Uri. “It is not that they were stationed at Bandi only. The army for the last more than two weeks are regularly patrolling the area, since Uri is on high alert.” Prima facia, he said, the victim girl does not have any adverse mental medical history.

SSP Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain told Kashmir Life that they are investigating the case. “We are investigating the case and the investigations will be done on merits.”

Director General of Police, Dr SP Vaid on Tuesday said that doctors have told the police that many cases of braid chopping reflected that the victims are “depressed and attention seekers”.

DGP Dr SP Vaid

“That is why we have asked government to form the inter-departmental committee which will be headed by an Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Deputy SP headquarters, an official of social welfare department and a lady medical officer will be part of the team,” Vaid explained. “They will talk to the victims, gather details as who cut their hair… they will visit the spots and take eye witness accounts.”

It may be recalled, after intense public pressure, on the directions of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, police had formed a SIT headed by a lady cop, however, there was no lead in the case so far.

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