The Mystery of Braid Chopping in Kashmir needs a Staid and Sober Response

The Mystery of Braid Chopping in Kashmir needs a Staid and Sober Response

Firdaus Ahmad

Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is a madness or hysteria.” ~Naomi Wolf
Hair-Chopping – has been a headline, and a trend on social media for many days now. Today, as I was getting ready to have my breakfast, news of another hair chopping incident in my neighboring village broke. Attached was the additional information related to the victim that it was second attempt on her in two days. In this particular incident, the victim seems to be more important than the task because attacking the same person twice is twice risky.
Meanwhile, I want to tell you about the situation at my home. Today, I am guarding my home. It’s already evening, and I haven’t stepped out since morning- the situation didn’t allow. By now, I learnt about three more hair chopping incidents one at Khudwani, the other at Bogund (Kulgam) and the third one at Shopian.
Women kind are horror-struck in South Kashmir. Girl children have suspended playing outside; some even skip going to school as of now. Many even find it risky to walk freely inside their homes. Elderly women in rural areas can’t visit their fields without an escort. Many of them can’t visit their relatives as well This, according to me, is pure terrorism. More than a dozen such successful, unsuccessful attempts have taken place in the Kulgam district alone in a matter of few days; therefore one can’t call it just a hysteria. It won’t be justified.
Neither the administration nor the populace has been able to answer any of the many questions related to this crime-apparently well organized and coordinated.
Who are the people doing this? What is their purpose? Who’s supporting them? Are they being paid for this ? The administration has not moved a step in the direction of solving the mystery till now. People are confused and angry at the same time. Emotions are running high. This is what, I am afraid, can aggravate the problem and lead us to worst. I am afraid of the day when someone gets lynched merely on suspicion. And that’s when the things can go out of hand and can be a point of no return.
Since the administration has so far been unable to do anything which can lead to the solution, everything has been left to speculations and people are pointing fingers at the administration, calling it a conspiracy. Many on social media and elsewhere blame Indian forces for the crime after the army intervened and allegedly rescued the choppers at Chimmer, Malwan (Kulgam). Many link this to the strategy of anti-militancy operations. Social media is abuzz with these and similar other stories. The various different narratives of the victims add to the perplexity.
Administration has to show seriousness and gear up the efforts to contain the spread of this terror epidemic to an uncontrollable level and to solve the mystery at the earliest. At the same time, the populace has to stop relying solely on the administration, as we can’t afford to. The bigger responsibility, at individual as well as collective levels, lies on the people to uncover the faces of the criminals and put an end the menace, once for all.
Firstly, we have to be vigilant around our homes and not to leave our women alone. Women must be prepared to defend themselves. We must accompany our children at all the lonely places. Secondly, if a person is caught on suspicion of being a chopper, we must not let the mob take the control. We must try to collect as much evidence as possible. Last , but not the least we must not take law into our own hands even if a person is caught red-handed. We must involve the responsible citizens of the society or the administration. That is how we can avoid a worse case scenario. No matter what the situation, we must never let our emotions overpower our intelligence.

—The author can be reached at: darfirdaus@gmail.com