Protests, shutdown in Kulgam against alleged army involvement in ‘braid chopping’

Protests, shutdown in Kulgam against alleged army involvement in ‘braid chopping’

SIT formed to probe the incidents

Anantnag: Stone pelting, amid a complete shutdown, erupted on Tuesday in main town Kulgam following nocturnal protests against alleged army involvement in “braid chopping” incidents and their subsequent highhandedness with the villagers, late Monday evening.
Police and army have promptly dismissed the allegations leveled by the villagers. Police have also maintained that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to probe into the incidents of “braid chopping”.
At least 8 FIR’s have so far been lodged in the braid chopping incidents in different police stations across Kulgam district, even as the locals say the number of incidents is way higher than that.
According to reports at about 9:30 pm Monday night hue and cry was raised by the villagers, after some suspicious movement was noticed by one of them near his house.
“The villagers came out and three men were actually spotted running. The villagers chased them. While one managed to escape two were caught hold of, both of whom were in army fatigues,” the villagers alleged.
They said that the third one probably informed the army in the nearby camp in Devsar area, while the two others were still captive and being questioned by the villagers.
Villagers alleged that the army came from the nearby camp and resorted to aerial firing and also fired some kind of shells to disperse the locals, while the captive men managed to escape.
“But they left behind two caps, the bullet proof camouflage caps army men wear. We have canisters of shells used by the army preserved as well,” the villagers said.
Following the ‘army action’ people held protests in Malwan village deep into the night and resumed the protests in the morning.
As the news spread this morning a spontaneous shutdown was observed in main town Kulgam and the peripheries as well.
Local sources said that stone pelting youth in main town Kulgam were dispersed using tear smoke shells by the government forces.
A senior army officer from Kulgam, requesting anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that an Area Domination Party (ADP) was in Malwan village late Monday evening when some youth approached them and asked if they had seen a bear.
“After asking them about the bear the youth went back into the village and apparently somebody among them used the masjid loudspeaker to announce that army has made the “braid choppers’ escape,” the official said, adding that the army unit was attacked with stones by the agitated villagers.
He said that the army men fired a few rounds in self defense.
“These allegations are completely preposterous and they have nothing to do with the truth. I don’t understand why army is dragged into each and everything,” the official said.
A senior police official from the area seconded the army version.
While the “braid chopping” is snowballing into a major issue, the Kulgam SSP, Sreedhar Patil, on Monday maintained that a Special Investigation Team has been constituted to look into the issue. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked police chief to constitute SIT to investigate the menace.
“We appeal the people to cooperate with the police so that the culprits are nabbed sooner than later,” Patil told media men.
Meanwhile Kulgam lawmaker, M Y Tarigami, has also expressed concern over the rising number of “braid chopping” incidents.
In a statement the Communist party leader said, “These incidents have created panic among the people at a time when harvesting season is going on,”
“This can also affect the ongoing fruit exports to different parts of the country. Administration must gear up itself to book these anti-social elements,” the statement reads.


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