No let-up in braid-chopping incidents in Kashmir

No let-up in braid-chopping incidents in Kashmir

Fresh incidents of braid-chopping triggered protests and clashes in various areas of Srinagar city and other parts of Kashmir Valley on Tuesday with people claiming that police is watching as a mute spectator over the issue.

A soldier was beaten up by a mob on suspicion of being involved in a braid-chopping incident in north Kashmir's Kupwara district. A senior police officer said that local boys had started thrashing the soldier, who was rescued by the army, after it was claimed that he was involved in braid-chopping.

Over 100 incidents of braid-chopping have been reported in the last one month with no breakthrough achieved by the police, despite announcing a reward of Rs six lakh for information and constituting special investigating teams.

In dozens of areas in Srinagar city, people came onto the roads, blocked movement of vehicular traffic and raised slogans against the government for its failure in arresting the braid choppers. This has been a routine not only in Srinagar but in other parts of the Valley for the last two weeks.

People claim that the braid cutters have the patronage of some security agencies and "they have been assigned the job to terrorise local residents."

However, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Muneer Khan, said this (braid-chopping) cannot be done by any security agency "as it is going to our disadvantage, in every way."

"The law and order situation is worsening due to this and also all my all anti-militancy operations have been impacted," Khan said.

He said the police have registered 105 FIRs of braid-chopping incidents across the Valley with 55 cases being reported from south Kashmir. Khan sees a larger conspiracy in the braid-chopping incidents and the fear psychosis it has created.

Following the incidents of braid-chopping, vigilante groups have been formed by people to catch the  attackers. The groups formed in different areas are armed with axes, sickle, wooden boards and cricket bats.

Night movement of people has become risky as vigilante groups dominate streets. There have been incidents of innocent men being roughed up after they were suspected to be braid choppers.

Even tourists were not spared of such suspicion and had to face the wrath of the public in Srinagar.

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