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Strike call by separatists over braid-chopping hits normal life in Kashmir valley

Anticipating protests, the authorities imposed restrictions in areas under seven police stations in old part of Srinagar.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2017 16:05 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmir,Syed Ali Shah Geelani,Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
A Kashmiri boy throws stones on Indian policemen during a clash in Srinagar on October 16, 2017. (AP)

A general shutdown called by separatist groups to protest against incidents of braid chopping of women by “unknown people” affected normal life in Kashmir valley on Saturday.

The separatists called the shutdown stating that the “unending” incidents of braid cutting are an “assault on modesty and dignity of women and are intolerable”.

Most of the shops and businesses in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar and other district headquarters remained closed while public transport was off the roads. The schools across the region too were closed. Kashmir University postponed its examinations.

Anticipating protests, the authorities imposed restrictions in areas under seven police stations in old part of Srinagar.

The Srinagar District Magistrate said restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC would continue to remain in force in parts of the city as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.

The areas where restrictions have been imposed are police stations Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, M R Gunj, Safakadal and partially in Kralkhud and Maisuma, he said.

Police and CRPF were deployed in sensitive areas. They erected barricades and concertina wires on some roads to block mass movement of people.

The braid chopping allegations, which started in the month of September from south Kashmir, have now spread to all the districts of the region. Over 100 such cases have been reported with no clarity on why or how it has been happening.

On most of the occasions women have alleged of being sprayed with some chemicals knocking them unconscious before their braids were chopped off.

State police have announced a bounty of Rs 6 lakh for anyone providing information about the braid-chopping incidents in the valley fearing that the bizarre acts could be used to spark anti-India sentiments.

Special investigation teams and round-the-clock help lines have been set up in every district to probe the incidents.

Many fear-stricken women are coming out on roads to protest.

Police have not arrested a single person over the allegations saying that the incidents have happened inside homes or at places with no eye witnesses. The police officials have accused victims of not cooperating with police. They have even attributed the incidents to mental illnesses of some women.

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have blamed it on “Indian tactics” and have accused police of inaction against braid choppers.

Following increasing incidents, men in many neighborhoods have formed vigilante groups who patrol the roads during nights looking for “braid choppers”.

On some occasions vigilante groups have thrashed or harassed innocents who are deemed suspicious. On Thursday, mobs in Srinagar tried to drown a man it suspected of braid chopping. A day later, vigilante groups tried to set on fire a mentally-challenged person in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

SSP Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain told local media on Saturday that they have detained 45 persons for their alleged role in instigating violence over braid-chopping incidents. Twelve have been detained in connection with the Sopore incident.

Separatists have asked vigilante groups not to take law in their hands and wanted them to handover the suspicious elements to trustworthy persons or local Masjid committees for onward action. “In no case they should punish them,” the three separatists said in a joint statement.

(With agency input)

First Published: Oct 21, 2017 11:44 IST