‘I am a thief, not a braid chopper’: Not every stranger could be a hair-cutter

Srinagar

While a police Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to investigate in the mysterious braid chopping phenomenon, there are not many answers available, so far. The people, almost everywhere, are spending sleepless nights across Kashmir, mostly in the southern parts of Kashmir where it is emerging as a sort of epidemic.

There have been a series of instances in which the people have attempted catching the people whom they do not know. They have all been set free but only after they became the victims of the situation.

In a southern Kashmir village, hundreds of people chased a young man and finally caught him. They stripped him and beat him ruthlessly and it was broadcast live on the social websites. It was only after the marshalling was over that the people who caught him started seeking answers from him.

“I am not a braid chopper,” the young man was heard saying on the video. “I am a thief of different kind.”

By then, however, he was beaten to the pulp. It was on the basis of the video shared by thousands of people that somebody claimed to have known him. He was not identified but the person said the youth was a thief and a habitual drug peddler from somewhere in Budgam. The person had said that he was in police custody for three months but when finally he was set free, there was nobody from his family even to claim him. He had also said the person is slightly mentally unwell.

In another incident, reports said, a group of Kashmir University students were on a survey in a village. Two of the girls from the group approached a family and sought space for prayers. They permitted them. While the two girls were offering their prayers, the family shut them up and shouted they had caught the braid choppers. It took an effort by the students to explain that they are actually on a research project and have been wrongly mistaken as braid choppers.

Earlier as well there were two cases in which the army had to open fire deep in southern Kashmir. Though the people claimed they had actually caught the braid choppers and the soldiers took them away, the state police have not confirmed even a shred of it.

In another case, again in southern Kashmir, a non local person wandering on the streets was caught and handed over to the police. He was accused of practicing black magic by using the hair. It was not established by the police.

Since incidents of braid chopping are taking place and there is not any clear answer to it about who is doing it and why, the people, out of their own compulsion, will remain vigilant. That is a natural thing. This is not for the first time it is happening. It has happened earlier as well when the “ghosts” were unleashed on Kashmir. It was again in place when the home burners, “nar tschour”, were out earlier.

But the real tension will remain that these quick responses by the society should not end up adding to the crisis by hurting those who are not involved, even remotely. The society will have to evolve its own system to address this concern.

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