Muheet ul Islam / Bilal Habib
Srinagar: Several protests against the mysterious hair cutting attacks by unidentified persons were held in different parts of the Valley on Thursday, even as at least four fresh cases were also reported.
Youth threw stones at government forces in Dhobi Ghat area, Hazratbal, in the early morning, after the hair of a woman was found cut off under inexplicable circumstances. Hundreds of men, women and children hit the streets soon after the news of the incident spread among residents and staged a protest demonstration, chanting slogans like ‘Choti Katna Band Karo (stop cutting braids)’ and ‘Mulzimon Ko Giraftar Karo (arrest the culprits)’.
Dhobi Ghat residents also thrashed a Special Police Officer (SPO) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police after mistaking him for a hair cutter. Residents said that the SPO, identified as Rayees Ahmad, was roaming in the area “suspiciously” when a group of youth felt he was a suspect.
The youth later thrashed Rayees before a police party from Nigeen Police Station reached the spot and rescued him, taking him later to the station. Initial investigations, according to some news reports, suggested that Rayees is a resident of Shopian.
Tanveer Ahmad Khan, Station House Officer, Nigeen Police Station, told Kashmir Reader that Rayees had come to meet his younger brother who is enrolled in Kashmir University. “His brother is a third semester student in the Department of Mathematics at Kashmir University. He had come to meet him yesterday and had stayed there for the night,” he said.
Khan said Rayees had left his brother’s rented accommodation in Habak to walk around Hazratbal this morning, during which some people mistook him for a hair cutter and beat him ruthlessly. Khan added that Rayees was later removed to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science for treatment. “He is fine but he is still under observation,” the SHO said.
Meanwhile, a protest against the non-stop spate of hair-cutting incidents was held by several members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and both factions of the Hurriyat Conference under the banner of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). The protest was held at Abi Guzar in City Centre, Srinagar. The protestors carried placards, some of which read: ‘Stop Braid Chopping’, ‘Attacks on dignity of daughter unacceptable’ and ‘Attacks on Kashmiri women and braid chopping are a ploy to intimidate Kashmiris’. The protest witnessed the participation of several pro-freedom leaders like Mohammad Yaseen Malik, Anjum Zamrooda Habib and Nissan Hussain Rather.
In Press Enclave, a few Congress party workers under the banner of the Rahul Gandi Fans Association also staged a protest against the hair-cutting incidents. The association members alleged that the government was adopting Israeli policy in the state. They also raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendera Modi, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. The protesting Congress workers said they will wipe out the People’s Democratic Party from the state.
A shutdown was observed in Beerwah area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam after the hair of a girl identified as Sabreena was cut off for the second time in a less than a week. The incident created panic among the residents, leading them to stage a protest.
According to the locals, Sabreena was in the courtyard of her house when unidentified men attacked her and snipped off her hair. “She was rushed to Sub-district Hospital Beerwah in an unconscious state where from she was referred to Srinagar,” a local resident told Kashmir Reader.
A woman’s hair was also cut in Gopalpora area, Sub-district Chadoora, when miscreants attacked her in her home during the morning hours. Locals said that the woman had performed Hajj earlier this year. “She was at her home when the hair cutters attacked her and cut her hair,” Jahangeer, a local resident, told Kashmir Reader over the phone.
A massive protest was taken out in Wathoora area of Chadoora against the incident. Traffic momentum came to a halt after locals blocked the Srinagar-Chadoora highway for a time. The protestors demanded that the government should take concrete steps to stop the hair-cutting incidents across the Valley.
Protests were also reported in Lari Prang area of Kangan in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district after an overnight hair-cutting incident that befell a 26-year-old woman. Raising slogans against the state government, the protestors demanded action against the culprits and blocked the Srinagar-Leh highway at Prang, which caused disturbance in traffic movement. Later a police party headed by SHO Kangan reached the spot to pacify the protestors and restore traffic on the busy highway.
A doctor at Sub-district Hospital Kangan said the victim had been referred to SMHS hospital Srinagar as the she complaining uncontrolled vomiting . A police officer at Kangan said that the police were on job and were verifying the facts of the incident from different angles. “We have already taken up the investigation and will act accordingly after reaching any conclusion,” he said.
Meanwhile, two incidents of braid chopping were reported from the outskirts of Srinagar late on Wednesday evening.
Reports said that hundreds of residents of Zewan and Samarbugh areas took to the streets to protest the braid chopping of a nine-year-old girl, Arbina, daughter of Parvaiz Ahmad Sheikh, resident of Alamdar Colony, Zewan, and a 30-year-old married woman, Asiya, wife of Irshad Ahmad Labroo, resident of New Colony, Samarbugh, and shouted slogans against the government.
The first incident was reported from Zewan in Pantha Chowk area where a Class II student was attacked in the courtyard of her home, while the second incident took place in Samarbugh, Nowgam, locals told Kashmir Reader.
They said that the girl, Arbina, was hospitalised following the braid cutting. “She was discharged from hospital after first aid,” said a meighbour.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, Arbina said her mother had gone to fetch milk in the evening, leaving her standing guard in the veranda of her house.
“Suddenly a veil-clad person jumped into our courtyard and tried to spray some chemical,” she said.
“I meekly asked him, are you a braid cutter? He nodded, and I told him to cut my braid as I would not cry,” the girl added.
She said the person then cut her braid and left.
“I kept my chopped braid in my scarf and when Mama came, I clung to her,” she said.
Family members told Kashmir Reader that Arbina wept all night afterwards and weeps even now.
The Tehsildar Panthachowk, Abdul Rahman Dar, accompanied by a lady doctor and a representative of the social welfare department, reached the spot and interacted with the family.
The second case was reported from Samarbugh where a woman, Asiya, found her braid chopped when she was alone in the kitchen.
The woman said she had wanted to serve the family food and had gone to the gas stove to heat the meal.
“As I was heating the evening dishes, somebody pulled my hair and tried to spray something on me. I somehow managed to cry out but not before my braid was cut,” she said, adding that the assailant even made many cuts in her face with a blade.
Her family told Kashmir Reader that the man rushed outside soon and boarded a Sumo vehicle waiting outside.
Scores of women and youth took to the streets as the news spread in the area.
Shouting slogans against the government for its failure to curtail the incidents, the protesting youth blocked the roads leading to the Lasjan-Samburbugh road for some time.