Srinagar: The Sofi family, living in Narparistan area of Fateh Kadal in downtown, is scared. To ensure that no one barges into their home again, as happened on Monday evening, they have nailed wooden planks and tin sheets over most of their windows.
Chaos erupted on Monday when the middle-aged Tasleema Bilal went into the small courtyard of the two-storey house to switch on a light. “I felt that my father-in-law might have turned the light off; I wondered why he would have done it when he knew that people in our area were searching for a hair cutter who had made an attempt to enter the house of our neighbour,” she said.
At that moment she screamed as she was hit by an iron rod on her forehead and a portion of her hair was cut by an unknown person. “As I tried to reach the switch, a man with dreadful eyes hit me with an iron rod. He then held me by my hair and turned me around in the same manner before cutting a portion of my hair.”
Tasleema suffered an injury to her neck during the scuffle with her attacker because of which she is not able to move her head in either direction. Surrounded by several family members inside their kitchen, Tasleema told Kashmir Reader that her alleged attacker was a well-built man, clad in a body suit, who had covered his face with a black cloth. “I tried to grab him by his chest, but he slipped from my hands as he was wearing tight (slippery) clothes. I screamed at that moment and later on I did not know anything,” she added.
Aijaz Ahmad Sofi, Tasleema’s bother-in-law, told Kashmir Reader that the moment the family heard the scream, they rushed towards the courtyard and found her kneeling on the floor. “The attacker jumped over the wall, and her son saw him running – he chased him, but the man disappeared in the darkness,” Sofi said.
Sofi believes that there is a possibility that the attack on Tasleema might have been planned as she had lashed out at government authorities during a Fateh Kadal protest that followed a braid chopping incident that befell her adopted daughter, Kousain Aijaz 16. The protest witnessed the participation of thousands, and a video clip of the demonstration went viral on social media. Kousain Aijaz is a daughter of Aijaz Ahmad Sofi, and her hair was allegedly cut when she was at her home. The family members say they found her unconscious with her hair cut off, with two bricks a few inches away from her. The family maintained that spray had not been used in either case.
“The attacker might have been part of the protest and he might have seen her lashing out at the government, the ministers and the police because her heart was burning. He might have said let her say what she wants, we will see her later on… Someone in the protest reportedly had even said that we won’t leave her,” Sofi said, supported by various members of his family.
Kousain’s mother told Kashmir Reader that her daughter had been in depression ever since her hair was cut. She said that everyone was trying to help her recover from the awful incident, but Monday’s assault had made her even more scared. “I have sent her to my maternal home because she was very upset. She is not able to focus on her studies. I wonder how she will be able to concentrate on her 10th standard examination under such circumstances,” she said.
The family members including Tasleema said that the police should now take hair-cutting incidents seriously. They also rebutted the police claim that the victims were “not cooperating with them”. “We registered FIR’s in both the cases. We want the police to put an end to hair-cutting incidents by booking the culprits,” Sofi said.
“Had we not been cooperating with the police, then why would we have provided a portion of the snipped hair along with a fresh hair sample for the tests they want to conduct,” he said, adding, “We are ready for every kind of cooperation as we want to see the culprits behind the bars.”
A local police official confirmed on condition of anonymity that the hair samples of both the victims had been taken to figure out various things. “Yes, the police have collected hair samples of the victims in order to identify the tool used to cut the hair and the spray the alleged hair choppers use to make people unconscious,” he said. “It took the police a lot of time to convince the family so that they would cooperate with us” he said.