KCSDS conference rejects mass-hysteria theory
SRINAGAR: Former bureaucrats, academicians, businessmen, doctors, human rights activists, and a retired high court judge, on Tuesday rejected the that braid chopping was a result of mass hysteria.
Speaking at a conference, the civil society members decided that they will independently investigate the phenomenon to draw a conclusion.
“There are multiple theories about braid chopping. If police claims that it is a mass hysteria without having any substantial proof, we too have a belief that it is not like that. Braid chopping is done in well-structured manner which satisfies the interest of the Indian state,” said Shakeel Qalander, a businessman and a member of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) that brought the group together at the round table conference here.
“So having this belief, we have decided to investigate it, and bring to fore the facts,” he added.
Among the participants were a former High Court judge, Justice Husnain Masoodi, former Islamic University Vice Chancellor Professor Sidiq Wahid, professor at the English Department Kashmir University Professor Hameeda Nayeem, economist and former KU faculty Prof Nisar Ali, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (Kashmir) chairperson Parveena Ahanger, former Chief Information Commissioner Ghulam Rasool Sofi, former Director Radio Kahsmir Ruksana Jabeen and poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef.
Masoodi said, “The political executives here are downplaying these incidents by describing it as mass hysteria. It is a ploy of repressive machinery to attack the people’s psyche. The police arrest an extremist in a lesser time but here they have been unable to crack these cases. We personally need to meet these victims and come up with some solution that would be acceptable,” he said.
Professor Sidiq Wahid, on the occasion, said that the cases related to braid chopping of women outside India have mostly been witnessed in the conflict regions.
“Earlier, such incidents have been reported from Sri Lanka and East Timor. In these countries, the minorities have been the victim, mostly women folk. Most important, the mysterious braid chopping had disappeared suddenly after a month’s period,” he said.
He suggested that these cases require to be studied in a “broader context” by taking assistance from different departments. “We need to investigate it thoroughly by taking assistance from the reportage, anthropologists, folklores, political scientists and history. We have been seeing such situations in the post 1990 period and it has generated an anxiety and disturbed political environment,” he said. “There is a need to reconstruct and describe these elements. We have political uncertainty but we should not get exploited,” he said.
The civil society members in the resolution also called for an end to the vigilantism, saying innocents were becoming victim of mob anger. They said that the Mohalla committees should manage the vigil in their respective areas in an organised manner.
Prominent civil society member, Javed Iqbal, claimed that the facts couldn’t correlate with the police version of prevalence of mass hysteria in the valley. “This issue has not been addressed at official level with seriousness. Government agencies have been terming it a case of mass hysteria, but facts on ground say something else,” he said.
Hameeda Nayeem said the mysterious braid chopping was aimed at “diverting the attention from the core issue of Article 35-A.”
“Only a month ago, the issue of Article 35-A was dominant in the valley and the government had to change the discourse. They induced fear psychosis by resorting to the human rights violation,” she said.