Braid Chopping Hysteria Engulfs Valley: 70 Year Old Man Killed
SRINAGAR: A 70-year-old man was killed after being mistaken for a braid chopper in south Kashmir’s Anantnag last night, reportedly by one of his relative, even as fresh incidents of braid chopping today are adding to the hysteria over the relentless and mysterious attacks on women across the Valley.
Police and family sources said the victim, Abdul Salam Wani, was attacked with a brick last night when he came out of home in Danter village of Anantnag, apparently to answer the nature’s call. According to one of their neighbour, the victim had jokingly tried to frighten the accused who attacked him with a brick.
“We heard him screaming in the alley outside. When we rushed out, he was writhing in pain. Then more neighbours came out and we took him to hospital from where he was referred to Srinagar,” a family member of the victim said.
Doctors at the Srinagar’s SKIMS hospital said Wani breathed his last in wee hours today. His body was handed over to the family who gave him a quiet burial in the morning today at his native village.
Police sources said the suspect, who lives in the same neighbourhood of Danter village has been identified, though no arrests have been made so far. No case has been filed by the police so far into the matter. Senior police officers in the district refused to speak on the matter.
More than 100 cases of braid-chopping have been reported from the valley in the last three weeks or so, generating mass hysteria and fear within the local population. The J&K Police hasn’t been able to make any headway in any of the cases so far.
Meanwhile, authorities have imposed restrictions in parts of capital Srinagar today to thwart protests against braid-chopping called by separatists who have blamed the “security agencies” for attacks. “Security has been stepped up and Section 144 has been imposed in some areas to prevent any protests,” police said.
Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been put under house-arrest while JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested and sent to Central Jail to prevent them from joining the protests against braid chopping.
Braids of two more women, from Srinagar and Baramulla, were cut today by unknown persons, triggering protests from angry residents. A widow was attacked by unknown persons in Pantha Chowk area of Srinagar, who cut her braid, triggering protests from angry residents who blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway, demanded action against the culprits.
In Baramulla, a 12th standard student was attacked at around 8:45 today morning in Sangri village. According to reports, two youth on a bike sprayed some chemical on her face and she lost consciousness. “Her braid was later found chopped off,” reports said.
Incidents of vigilantism have grown since the braid chopping attacks started gathering steam, vitiating the atmosphere in the Valley where innocent people, sometimes poor labourers from Bihar and West Bengal as also Kashmiris, have become targets of angry people who are on the lookout for braid-choppers.
The J&K Police and other security agencies have not been able to make any headway in the cases, even though the agencies have a vast intelligence network in the state that has yielded more than 100 militants this year alone. Last week, Kashmir police chief, Munir Khan, said the victims don’t cooperate with police which is hampering the investigations.
A helpline has been set up and special investigation teams have been formed in each district of the Valley to investigate braid-chopping incidents while a reward of Rs 6 lakh has also been announced for information that leads to arrest of braid choppers.