Braid-chopping incidents: Kashmir observes shutdown

Braid-chopping incidents: Kashmir observes shutdown
A shutdown was observed across the Kashmir Valley on Monday against the soaring number of braid-chopping incidents, which are showing no signs of relenting.

While the shutdown was called by separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, authorities imposed restrictions in Srinagar and other parts of the valley to thwart any protests.

Shops, public transport and educational institutes remained closed in Srinagar and also in other major towns of the valley. Dozens of mysterious braid chopping incidents have been reported from different parts of the Valley during the last one month. The J&K Police had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter, but has so far it has not able to achieve any breakthrough.

While locals accuse intelligence agencies for the incidents, the braid chopping is fast gaining political colour with separatists trying to create trouble over the issue. Even opposition political parties in Kashmir have lashed out at the government for its "failure" to arrest the accused.

However, police deems the entire controversy a result of mass hysteria. A senior police officer told DH that the issue has already given impetus to separatists, who announced protests against braid chopping.

“Braid chopping started from Haryana, spread to other states. But in Kashmir some vested interests try to project it as handiwork of agencies. People should not follow rumors blindly. It could provide an opportunity to anti-social elements to give a political dimension to the bizarre buzz," he said.

On Thursday evening a frenzied mob killed a 70-year-old man in south Kashmir's Anantnag, mistaking him for a braid chopper. On Sunday, a group of foreign tourists, who were being threatened by a mob here after being labelled braid-choppers were rescued by the police.

Police said a group of foreign tourists including three from Australia and one each from Britain, Ireland and South Korea were held up by some youth who mistook them as braid choppers.

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