KULGAM: People as well as the police are clueless on the rising incidents of “braid chopping” in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the only district in south Kashmir affected by the mysterious phenomenon.
There are at least eight cases of braid chopping in Kulgam district-two in main town Kulgam, four in Devsar and three in DH Pora area-which police have taken cognizance of and registered FIR.
But if the locals are to be believed the number of cases might be higher, as several victims have not reported it for the fear of social implications.
The most recent case was reported from Naikpora village of the district on Saturday where a 15 year old girl claimed that somebody actually entered the kitchen of their home and chopped off her braid while she was making tea.
The girl and her grandmother told media persons that some substance was either sprayed or sprinkled by the ‘braid chopper’ which made the victim dizzy and her grandmother’s vision blurred.
One of the victims in Czimmer village of the district said she was sleeping in her room when the incident happened and another from Devsar was in the washroom when her braid was chopped off.
The locals in the district smell a conspiracy.
“They want us to hold non-locals responsible for the incidents, attack them so that Kashmiri people are attacked outside Kashmir. This will also affect our ongoing fruit exports to different parts of India,” one of the residents in Kulgam told Kashmir Reader.
Another was of the opinion that the incidents were handiwork of the “agencies”.
“They want us to lock down our houses early in the evening so that militants do not get a shelter at any of the houses,” the local, an orchardist, told Kashmir Reader.
Police on the other hand seem to be as clueless as the locals, with absolutely no help from the victims or their families.
“The victims or their families have been of no help. We are groping in dark,” a police official from the district said, adding that the reluctance of the victims as well as their families
to share any info is hampering the police investigations.
Another official said even the victims, in whose cases FIR’s have been registered, are very reluctant.
The officials wanted to remain anonymous. Kashmir Reader’s repeated calls to SP, Sreedhar Patil, went unanswered.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Munir Khan, said he was busy and will talk about the issue tomorrow.
“I will get the details from the concerned SP. Call me tomorrow,” Khan said.
Meanwhile the Kulgam district administration, taking cognizance of the mass hysteria, ordered the tehsildars to mobilize the services of Village Level Social Welfare Committees, Lumberdars and Chowkidars and concerned Patwaris (preferably residential) for a round the clock vigil of their respective areas.
Moreover, the order provided phone numbers of police officials for emergency situations.
The phenomenon, based loosely on media reports, might have started from New Delhi and some neighboring states somewhere around June this year.
Hindustan Times reported on August 7 that two dozen cases were reported in Delhi, “Since the last two weeks,” and around 90 from neighboring states since June.
The seemingly “harmless” incidents took a darker turn after The Hindu, on August 3, reported the lynching of a Dalit woman in Agra, on suspicions of being a “braid chopper”.
Interestingly, reported The Hindu, no cases of Braid Chopping were reported till then in the Mutnai village of Dauki police station in Agra, where the lynching took place.
The phenomenon did not take long to reach Jammu and Kashmir and soon cases of braid chopping were being reported from Jammu and then from the Chenab valley region, more specifically Doda.
According to some media reports as many as 20 cases have been reported from rural Jammu in the past more than one month.
Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary lists braid-cutting as a perversion (Paraphilia).
“Relatively rare these days, consisting of cutting of the hair from the victim; it is form of sadism combined with a fetishistic preference for hair,”
The dictionary further reads that psychoanalytically braid cutting is interpreted as the idea, “I am the castrator, not the castrated one,”
And often also the complementary idea, “I am only a pseudo castrator, not the real castrator,”
It further says the knowledge that the hair will grow back is an important part of the reassurance that the subject gains from the act in that it proves to him castration need not be final