The mysterious ‘braid choppers’ in the Kashmir Valley are emerging as an alibi for some people to get out of their troubles or settle scores, debunking the theory floated by anti-national elements that put the blame for the panic wave on central agencies, the state police said.
The Jammu and Kashmir police have filed over 35 FIRs whilst the chief minister has constituted a Special Investigation Team and announced a Rs 6 lakh reward but as yet they have no answers to this key question. The police has detected cases where people have beaten up their business rivals, stalkers and even migrant labourers on suspicions of them being braid choppers. The recent ‘braid chopper’ episodes that have triggered panic in the Valley are being claimed by the separatists as the handiwork of central agencies to divert attention from their anti-national agenda and demand of ‘Azadi’. However, in a number of cases the police have found that people have used the excuse to escape from their own troubles.
Director General of Police SP Vaid says it is a mass hysteria that is being generated by certain vested interests to whip up tension in the Valley. “Some people are accusing security forces of braid chopping only to create an unrest. We have formed teams in every area to provide assistance but people who make such allegations don’t step forward for help.
“We have a team of Additional Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Superintendent of Police and a lady doctor in every district. We have to examine the victims who claim braid chopping. They have to step forward and allow us to carry out psychological analysis. But that does not happen,” Vaid said here.
He also said that in various cases it was found that some people who were beaten for being alleged braid choppers turned out to be cases involving either persons having a love affair or a business or a personal rivalry or the matter involved high charges for labour work.
According to a police FIR in Baramulla earlier this month, a boy identified as Nayeem Ahmed was severely beaten at Delina by an angry mob accusing him of being a braid chopper. “Investigation into the matter also revealed that Nayeem was in a relationship with a local girl from Delina village and had gone to meet her when he was spotted and beaten up by locals there accusing him of being a braid chopper,” the FIR said.
Vaid said, “People are requested not to fall prey to rumours and let me make it clear that strict legal action will be taken against attention seekers in the garb of braid chopping. Rumour mongers and mischief mongers will also be brought to book who take advantage of the situation to disturb the peaceful atmosphere.”
According to the police, nearly 103 such incidents have taken place, out of which 63 related to people who are either taking treatment for mental illness or under the influence of local god-men. Recently, a tailor in Nishat area of Srinagar was beaten mercilessly when he had gone to deliver a suit to his client. “The victim was stopped by a mob and during his search, they found a pair of scissors on him. He was almost half dead when we team rescued him,” said a police official.
In another case in Pulwama, four labourers hailing from Bihar were heckled and thrashed by a mob for being alleged braid choppers. “It was found during investigations that the four had a tiff with their boss over wages and had left the work in middle. Their boss settled his score by indulging in such an action,” the official said, adding that investigations into the case were on.
Four foreigners, who had gone for a stroll along the Dal Lake, were caught by a mob for being alleged braid choppers before police rescued them. “Investigations into this case showed that the four had fallen victim to a personal rivalry between two hotel owners in the area,” the official said. Recently in Tral in South Kashmir, two Sikh boys were beaten by a mob for being alleged braid choppers. “One of them had gone to meet his lover, who happened to be a Muslim. They boy refused to give away the name and was beaten badly by the mob till police rescued them,” the official said.