Instances of braid chopping reported in five Indian states were attributed to criminal and mischievous elements of the society, in Kashmir however, such incidents are proving to be major hassle for police and a PR nightmare for the intelligence agencies.A notorious motor cycle thief, a labourer, a mentally ill person and security force personnel carrying out their “covert duties” are some of the suspects cam under attack from locals for chopping braids of women. A considerable amount of locals accuse intelligence agencies for the incidents with social media in the Valley swarming with conspiracy theories. This belief, coupled with cases of vigilante violence against braid chopping incidents as well as some stone pelting incidents, prompted the state government to snap mobile internet services across Kashmir on Friday. Senior police officers have deemed the entire controversy a result of mass hysteria with one senior cop telling HT that it had become the topmost priority of the police force to clear the air on hair chopping. The issue however, the officer said, has already given impetus to separatists who announced protests against braid chopping.While Hurriyat (M) chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest on Friday, JKLF chief Yasin Malik was detained to prevent the duo from leading protests against braid chopping incidents.“Braid chopping is not happening in Kashmir only. It started from Haryana, spread to Delhi, UP, Rajasthan and also reached Jammu where 100 cases were registered. But only in Kashmir people have deemed it to be handiwork of agencies. For Hurriyat, it doesn’t matter how did it happen but, it is an attack on the modesty and dignity of women by India,”, said a senior police official requesting anonymity.Close to 30 cases of braid chopping, excluding 15 unsuccessful attempts, have been reported across the Kashmir valley prompting night vigils, public demonstrations and in some cases violent street protests. “Out of 30 cases, there are three girls who allege chopping of their hair on seven occasions. Four males have reported hair chopping including a government school teacher. Others caught in the name of hair choppers include a notorious motor cycle thief from Budgam, two forces personnel who were on covert duties, two mentally ill persons, a labourer from Bihar and a youth who had gone to meet his female friend in the evening,” the officer told HT.“We should stop behaving like this and try not to follow rumours blindly. Contributing to the euphoria by revealing fairy tales, superstitious myths and concocted stories makes our people folk more vulnerable,” the official added. A senior home ministry official and a paramilitary officer attributed the current scenario as a result of rumour mongering. However the ground situation seems to be on the contrary. A senior police officer revealed profiles of those who were accused of chopping braids, beaten and apprehended by locals and finally handed over to cops. In some cases, the army and police force had to come for their rescue. “A labourer who was smoking near a house was apprehended and thrashed and we are told a woman working her fields died when she thought she saw a hair chopper. All this is a result of hysteria and it is unfortunate,” the officer added.