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Kashmir braid chopping: 73 held for ‘raising false alarm, targeting army, police’

Police said the arrested were trying to achieve three objectives: disturb peace and order in the Valley, to create animosity between people and security forces, and to force confining of women inside homes.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2017 21:30 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmir,Braid chopping in Kashmir,kashmir valley
National Conference workers scuffle with police during their protest rally against the growing incidents of braid chopping in Kashmir valley,in Srinagar on Saturday.(PTI)

Jammu and Kashmir police on Saturday said that they have arrested 73 people for raising false alarm on braid chopping and creating disturbances across Kashmir Valley.

Of the 45 arrested in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, 18 were charged with assault on three Territorial Army men in Sheeri while 16 were held in Boniya, six in Delina and five in Singhpora.

Seventeen others were arrested in Srinagar for spreading rumours and instigating people to pelt stones at security forces and 10 were taken into custody in Kupwara for thrashing an army man.

One person, belonging to a political party which the police did not reveal, was arrested in south Kashmir’s Anantnag for “enacting a hair-chopping drama” to create law and order problem.

A police spokesman said the arrested were trying to achieve three objectives: disturb peace and order in the Valley, to create animosity between people and security forces, especially the state police, and to force women inside homes by creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Some of the arrested also raised slogans hailing Zakir Musa, the al-Qaeda’s Kashmir chief, he said.

Allegations of braid chopping — a phrase used to describe the mysterious phenomenon of several women claiming that unknown men attack them and cut off their hair — started in September from south Kashmir, and spread to all the districts of the region.

Over 100 such cases have been reported, creating chaos and fear among women in the Valley, with no clarity on why or how it has been happening.

In most cases, women allege that they were sprayed with some chemicals knocking them unconscious before their braids were chopped off.

Baramulla

During investigation, police learnt that “a notorious stone-pelter Qaiser Bilal Bhat hatched a conspiracy to get three Territorial Army men killed by falsely accusing them as braid choppers”.

When the three army men reached Sheeri market, Bhat raised a hue and cry, and got a violent mob to gather and attack them, the spokesman said.

Police said they arrested 18 persons and recovered looted cash, ATM cards and mobile phones from them.

Police arrest a youth during a protest against the growing incidents of braid chopping in Kashmir, in Srinagar on Saturday. (PTI)

Kupwara

The spokesman said that the 10 arrested in Kupwara were part of an unruly mob of miscreants who had caught hold of an Army man of 3rd JAKLI (Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry) and accused him of being a braid chopper in Redii Chowkibal of Kupwara on October 17.

“Some miscreants had alleged that an Army man after committing the offence had boarded the army’s CASPER vehicle deployed on road opening party duties,” he said, adding that police intervened and saved the injured soldier.

Miscreants also started pelting stones on the police team during the intervention, the officer said.

Investigations proved that neither the lady whose braid was chopped off nor any of her family members had seen any army personnel either in the house where the incident took place or elsewhere. No person has claimed to have seen the Army personnel running from the house towards the road where the CASPER vehicle was stationed, he said.

Srinagar

In Srinagar, police said eight persons were arrested from Batamaloo area in Shaheed Gunj sub-division while six others were held from Noorbagh area of Maharaj Gunj subdivision of Srinagar city in different raids by the police.

“These miscreants were spreading rumours on braid chopping and were causing panic among the people... to instigate general public for protest and stone pelting,” the spokesman said.

Anantnag

In Dooru area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag, police said Bilal Ahmad Mir, belonging to a particular political party, enacted a hair chopping drama to create law and order problem. He also said that his finger was hurt when he tried to catch the attacker.

Police found he managed to muster support by using a megaphone, although the case turned out to be a hoax.

Later, police found that he had injured his fingers at his workplace.

First Published: Oct 21, 2017 17:38 IST