Five injured in army firing on ‘anti-braid chopping’ protests

Five injured in army firing on ‘anti-braid chopping’ protests

NC legislator offers Rs 10 lakhs reward to govt for arresting braid chopper

Anantnag: At least five people, including an elderly woman, were injured on Wednesday in army firing on people protesting against the ‘braid chopping’ of a local woman here in Wulerhama village of Pahalgam, in Anantnag district.
The locals had pelted stones at the army, accusing them of shielding a ‘braid chopper’ about to be captured by locals who chased after him.
The injured people have been identified as Zahid Ahmad Mir, son of Gulzar Ahmad; Zahoor Ahmad Jan, son of Muhammad Anwar; Irshad Ahmad Bhat, son of Muhammad Ibrahim; Farooq Ahmad Khanday, son of Ghulam Nabi and Mokhti Begum, wife of Ghulam Muhammad Magray – all residents of Wulerhama.
Doctors at Anantnag district hospital, where they were treated, said only Mukhti had a pellet injury.
“The rest of them had bullet injuries. Two had minor injuries, but two of them had to be operated upon. All of them are stable, though,” a doctor told Kashmir Reader.
The incident, as per reports, took place at about 7 am on Wednesday. The locals told Kashmir Reader that some unidentified person had cut off the hair of a married woman in Sofipora locality of the village, following which she had raised a hue and cry.
“The alert villagers all came out and were chasing the suspect when all of a sudden an army vehicle appeared from nowhere and the suspect leaped into the vehicle to save himself,” said eyewitnesses who had accompanied the injured in Anantnag.
They said that the locals were furious as it was evident that the army was shielding the ‘braid chopper’.
“The angry locals pelted stones at the army vehicle. The army men in turn fired indiscriminately at us,” the villagers alleged.
SDPO, Pahalgam, Javaid Iqbal told Kashmir Reader that the locals had assembled following the ‘braid chopping’ and started to pelt stones as soon as they saw an army vehicle passing by.
“The army opened fire at the protestors, leaving five people injured,” Iqbal said.
He, however, said that he was not sure whether there actually was a ‘braid chopping’ incident or not.
“The hair we were shown was not even an inch in length. I am not sure if there was a braid chopping or not,” the SDPO said.
Army spokesperson Rajesh Kalia in a statement said, “A mob which had gathered near Walarom (Pahalgam) blocked the road when an Army patrolling party was passing through the area. The party commander requested the mob to give way. However, some instigators baselessly alleged that a braid-chopper had mounted the Army vehicle and started closing in on the Army column”.
It said the party commander warned the crowd and fired a few rounds in air to disperse the crowd. “The mob started heavy stone-pelting on Army vehicle and personnel and started moving dangerously close to the troops. After Company Commander gave a final warning, the troops first fired in air, but when the crowd didn’t relent and continued to throw stones causing injury to troops, he was left with no option but to open fire at them in self defence exercising utmost restraint to minimise casualty,” it added.
Following the incident, mobile internet was snapped in Anantnag district and broadband speed was brought down considerably.
Pahalgam MLA and National Conference (NC) leader Altaf Kuloo accused the government of orchestrating the ‘braid chopping’ incidents in the Valley.
“They should stop doing it now. Enough is enough. The government should stop playing with the chastity of our sisters,” Kuloo told a press gathering in Anantnag soon after the Wulerhama incident.
He criticised the government for announcing a reward for information of ‘braid choppers’ on the one hand and showering bullets on the other at anybody who tries to catch a suspect.
“I challenge the government to catch one [suspect]. They can’t because they are the ones orchestrating all this in Kashmir,” Kuloo said.
He offered a reward of Rs 10 lakhs for the government if even a single person accused of ‘braid chopping’ is arrested.