Braid chop­ping pushes J&K into po­lit­i­cal cri­sis

De­spite form­ing Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Teams to probe the in­ci­dents, not a sin­gle case has been solved so far

The New Indian Express - - INDIA - FAYAZ WANI @ Sri­na­gar

THE braid chop­ping in­ci­dents have the po­ten­tial to turn into a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in Kash­mir as sep­a­ratist and op­po­si­tion lead­ers upped the ante ac­cus­ing the PDP-BP coali­tion govern­ment of do­ing noth­ing against it.

In less than a month, about 100 braid cut­ting in­ci­dents have been re­ported from across the Val­ley.

The first braid chop­ping in­ci­dent in the Val­ley was re­ported from south Kash­mir’s Kul­gam district in early Oc­to­ber. It quickly spread to cen­tral and north Kash­mir. Sri­na­gar, the sum­mer cap­i­tal of the state, is far from un­af­fected. Most neigh­bour­hoods in the city have re­ported braid cut­ting in­ci­dents.

The braid cut­ters, ac­cord­ing to the vic­tims, spray cer­tain chem­i­cals on the faces of their vic­tims be­fore cut­ting their braids. In some in­stances, the braid cut­ters have also re­port­edly snatched gold or­na­ments of the vic­tims.

How­ever, de­spite protests and even for­ma­tion of vig­i­lante groups, there has been no letup in such in­ci­dents.

There have also been in­ci­dents when peo­ple caught and beat sus­pected braid chop­pers, who later turned out to be in­no­cent.

In one such in­ci­dent last week, a 70-year-old man died of griev­ous in­juries when he was mis­taken as a braid chop­per and at­tacked with a brick by his nephew in south Kash­mir’s Anant­nag district.

The sep­a­ratist lead­ers, Syed Ali Gee­lani, Mir­waiz Umar Fa­rooq and Mo­ham­mad Yasin Malik blamed se­cu­rity forces and govern­ment for braid-chop­ping in­ci­dents.

Terming it an at­tack on the dig­nity of the women, they have be­gun protests against the braid chop­ping in­ci­dents. On their call, Kash­mir ob­served a com­plete shut­down on Oc­to­ber 9.

The ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in the Val­ley re­mained closed Thurs­day in view of the stu­dent protests called by sep­a­ratists against braid chop­ping. The sep­a­ratists have called for fur­ther protests af­ter Fri­day prayers.

Po­lice have formed Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Teams (SITs) to probe the in­ci­dents. How­ever, not a sin­gle case has been solved nor any ar­rests made.

In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (IGP) Kash­mir, Muneer Ah­mad Khan, told New In­dian Ex­press that no vic­tim has come for­ward to help the in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency and none have de­posed be­fore po­lice in­form­ing what hap­pened. He added that 100 in­ci­dents of braid chop­ping have been re­ported in the Val­ley so far and 100 cases have been reg­is­tered by the po­lice.

The IGP said po­lice has now di­rected hospi­tals to main­tain a proper record of the vic­tims and take their blood sam­ples to know what kind of chem­i­cals were sprayed.

With the po­lice un­able to achieve any break­through, the J&K High Court stepped in and di­rected the govern­ment to sub­mit a list of braid chop­ping cases and FIRs reg­is­tered by the po­lice so far by Fri­day.

If govern­ment doesn’t do any­thing soon to stop th­ese in­ci­dents, there is a like­li­hood that it can turn into a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal cri­sis and be­come an­other headache for the em­bat­tled Mufti govern­ment Aadil Ah­mad, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst

Women pro­test­ers hold­ing axe and bat, raise slo­gans dur­ing a protest against grow­ing num­ber of in­ci­dents of braid chop­ping in the Kash­mir Val­ley, at Hazrat­bal near Sri­na­gar on Thurs­day |

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