By: Neyaz Elahi
Srinagar, Oct 21, CNS: Even though police have declared a reward of Rs 6 lakhs for providing credible information about braid choppers, the North Kashmir’s Baramulla district police chief Mir Imtiyaz Hussain has been categorically linking braid chopping incidents to mass hysteria.
The police officer is very active on social media and has been asking people to stop looking for any braid chopper as there according to him is none.
In one of this facebook posts that he has written in bold letters to give thrust on his message to people, Mir writes: “There are no braid choppers that you are looking for. It’s a mental health issue. Please don’t kill anybody.”
As the word about alleged braid choppers using spray to knock down victims unconscious spread across Valley, the District Police Chief took to facebook seeking help from scientist and doctors requesting them to name the strange spray being used by these braid choppers. He wrote: We want to know the name of spray or chemical that makes a person unconscious instantly and helps to regain the consciousness within two minutes-the time that’s taken by the criminal to chop the braid and afterward the victim raises the alarm. This spray/chemical has no smell, odour and is colourless and invisible. Doctors haven’t been able so for find any trace of it on any victim’s face or body. Will anyone please help to ascertain the nature of this chemical ? Any doctors or scientists here to help please?”
To make his point and to relate braid chopping incidents to mass hysteria, Mir Imtiyaz Hussain again wrote: “Three decades of armed violence have taken a severe psychological toll on Kashmir. According to a 2015 report by Medicin Sans Frontiers, 93% of Kashmir’s population has experienced or witnessed conflict-related trauma and 1.8 million, or 45%, of adults show significant symptoms of mental distress.”
“Well, the madness will continue till we understand that Braid Chopping has something to do with our collective psyche. Many such victims of madness were rescued by police from the clutches of mad lynching mobs and then this sickening propaganda that they are saved for being linked to police or so called agencies.
Two shopkeepers of Gojwara who were rescued from mad crowd in Ishber Nishat are being labelled on Facebook as Army men from 55RR. Do we have any grain of shame left?”
In order to educate people, Mir writes: “Guys there are no Braid Choppers, you won’t find any. Please educate your family, society, community and stop this madness now, stop attacking innocent people.
Pertinently, police not only declared a cash reward but also issued help line numbers to stop braid chopping incidents. Police have also constituted Special Investigation Teams to unfold the mystery. Even administration at district levels formed committees with the help of villagers to overcome this menace. While some claim it is mass hysteria, the Chairperson State Womens Commission Nayeema Ahmed Mehjoor says that the Commission can’t give sweeping judgment that it is a mass hysteria.
When news agency CNS contacted SSP Barmulla Mir Imtiyaz Hussain, he was candid in his reaction and admitted that police announced a cash reward at an initial stage when it was clueless. “Sincerely speaking, that time when cash reward was declared, we were clueless. As the incidents started taking place on large scale and we started investigating them, we had only reason to believe that it is mass hysteria,”
He said at least 12 braid chopping incidents occurred in his jurisdiction. Some occurred within the four walls of victims houses while one of the victims was already consulting a Psychiatrist. “We are looking at these incidents through various angles. So far we can say that those involved in such mayhem may have three objectives, number one, their motive is to disturb the peace in valley, number two, they want to create animosity between police and people and the last motive is to create fear-psychosis among women folk. There are some radical elements present in our society who don’t want women should be given a free hand. They want to stop women from pursuing education and government and private jobs and this is right now happening. Women are scared to come out from their houses. Even our beloved mothers who used to fetch bread for us from bakers during wee hours have shunned this practice. One question that baffles us is the pro-Zakir Musa slogans that hair vigilantes raise after apprehending any suspect. Zakir represents radical elements and it gives credence to our investigation that braid chopping is the handiwork of those who want to suppress the womenfolk,” SSP Baramulla said.
Responding to a question, Mir said that J&K is the best police in crime detection across the world. “I am not talking about country but about world. Is it possible that there may be a braid chopper and we will not be able to apprehend him? Our investigations reveal that the victims have been doing it to seek attention. Some are suppressed while others have family problems,” he said.
When asked what is the way out and how can these incident stop, SSP Barmulla said: “People must behave responsibly and should not give importance to these incidents. In Jammu, these incidents stopped as the media behaved sensibly there and stopped highlighting these incidents. The media in Kashmir too should stop giving weightage to these incidents. When there will be no publicity, there will no braid cutting incidents,” he said. (CNS)
(This story is filed and edited by senior journalist Neyaz Elahi, who heads CNS English Section)