Braid chopping knocking at the LoC, but will it jump the fence

by Saima Bhat

SRINAGAR: With the length and breadth of Kashmir already passing through the mysterious braid chopping, the crisis has finally reached Uri. With four chopping incidents paralyzing the life in the border town on Sunday, the crisis is literally knocking at the LoC.

Shroded in tear smoke, this is the main gate of Islamia College as seen from inside.

“The crisis has moved from south to north,” one senior police officer said. “It has reached Uri and now it remains to be seen if it jumped over the LoC fence or uses the Kaman bridge to crossover.”

On Monday, an unconfirmed report from south Kashmir said that “two choppers” barged into a home and wanted to chop the braid of a girl. But the father resisted and offered himself. So they cut a part of his beard and left! Police said they are aware of the “rumour” and are trying to verify the details of it, if at all it has happened.

A graph of braid chopping incidents suggests Srinagar peaked

As the rumour reached Srinagar, the students of Islamia College were already out of their classrooms to protest against the menace of braid chopping. Reports said the students assembled in the premises of the college, resorted to sloganeering for some time. They wanted to move out on the road but the faculty prevailed.

But the protest resumed within minutes after police allegedly fired smoke shells inside the campus, said a student from the college. The clashes between the students, who are inside the college and the police, outside college, are going on as the last reports came in. Reports said the police lobbed dozens of tear smoke shells inside the college. An unconfirmed report said even pellets were used.

Earlier in the morning, there was an incident reported from Sopore. In Ningli village, an elderly woman said two persons ct her braid. This triggered protests in the area. The town and its peripheries are witnessing increased incidence of braid chopping. On Sunday, two such reports were received from two different areas.

There are reports abot protests over the barid chopping in Pampore and Awantipore. Protesters at Awantipore actally attempted disrupting the movemnet on the highway but they were chased by the police. Pampore observed an instant strike over the chopping incidents.

Soldiers patrolling near LoC Fence
Soldiers patrolling near LoC Fence

In his press conference, Kashmir police chief Mneer Khan said they are not getting any spport from the victims of the braid chopping. Neverthkess, he said, the collection of blood samples has already been set in motion. Asking people not to get panicky, Khan said certain anti-social elements might be taking advantage of the sitation. He said the fear factor has literally caged the womefolk of Kashmir.

Police said there has not been any change in the overall vigil that people have mounted. It continues to create scare and tensions. “Right now, we have confirmed 150 cases of braids chops,” one senior police officer said. “Then there are failed attempts at chopping and rumours about chopping – all put together we have then 350 cases.”

“By Monday 10 am, these vigilante groups have intercepted as many as 55 people and invariably beaten them,” the officer said. “Some of them were hospitalized.”

But the crisis faces its acid test now. The “crisis” literally travelled by road from Rajasthan to Kashmir. In Kashmir, it moved from south to north. The dominant opinion within the official set-up is that it is sort of a mass hysteria, a belief that is being hugely contested by the people. Not a single person caught and accused of chopping was proved a chopper. If it crosses LoC, it may vindicate the government theory. What, if the LoC fence prevented it?

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