A tryst with a braid chopper

Till the time I had a tryst with the ghost I believed it as mass hysteria

Dr Muhammad Zaka ur Rub
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 21 2017 11:19PM | Updated Date: Oct 21 2017 11:19PM
A tryst with a braid chopper

Many months after several north Indian states and Jammu reported series of mysterious braid chopping incidents, Naira Jan, a class 9 student from Kokernag (Anantnag),  the Southernmost part of Kashmir was the first victim to have welcomed the wave of braid chopping to Kashmir on 14 September 2017. then it spread like a cancer - to Kupwara via Kulgam, Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Baramulla. Braid Chopping is not the first of its kind. In mid 90s, when the armed insurgency was at its peak, people of Kashmir were exposed to the trauma of nocturnal harassment and torture. There were incidents of intruders barging into people’s houses, harassing them, and in some cases even beating the household members. People called these nocturnal intruders as ghosts – bhoot. 

Till the time I had a tryst with the ghost turned Braid Chopper I could believe all version, from Police and Administration, terming it as mass hysteria, and common masses calling it a well planned tactic to terrorize them. But on the fateful night of  16th October 2017, at about 10:30 pm, my brother received a call from our sister conveying that a braid chopping incident was foiled at her place in Muslimpeer, Sopore. Momentarily we didn't know what to do. My sister, 35, lives with her two little children, along with her elderly mother-in-law. Her husband works as a photojournalist in Srinagar who visits home on weekends. Upon receiving the call, and our subsequent calls made to one of my brothers in law, from the nearby vicinity, confirmed that they have rescued the family and that the attempt was foiled by the already prompt inhabitants and neighbours of my sister. This came as a big relief to both of us, me and my brother. We kept our old aged parents unaware of the news till morning. No sooner we finished morning prayers we moved to our sister’s place along with our parent, to find the family in absolute shock. They were so fearful that they opened up after 15 minutes of our stay there. “It was unfortunate that we had an encounter with the braid chopper, last night”, my sister said.

She narrated that, “at about 10:10 p.m. on 16th of October when we had finished our dinner, my two kids and, my mother-in-law, were glued to our beds. My two kids were partly asleep when I heard some movement from the gables of my house. I was dumbstruck,  and so was my mother in law. I somehow grabbed my two kids who opened their eyes sensing something was wrong. The clap of footsteps downing the staircase was draining our existence. It took us no time to realize that we are their targets for the night. The fear of unknown was enough for us to feel half dead. My legs were trembling, my tongue dried up and my head was moving. The little Uzma, my daughter witnessing our helplessness shouted out, ‘Kune kahn chuwna khudayoo’ Is there none to help us, God. She shivered and trembled. I was just a mute spectator.” 

Empathizing with the family everybody, my brother, parents and their neighbors, present in the house cried. “The loud shout of tender Uzma left the intruders in a state of distress fearing the wrath of people on them. The shout reached my dear neighbors who rushed towards my house to rescue my family. I could see one of the intruders fleeing from the front window of the hall at first floor of our house. He was wearing a black upper, the little Umair, my sister’s son could recollect. We were surrounded by tens of our neighbors consoling. 

Having heard that, I along with my brother and Jiju who, by 8 am had managed to come down from Srinagar to see his family safe, went upstairs to have a thorough look of the building. To our amusement we find some garments (a Kameez and undershirt) hanging from the eaves of the rooftop. We pointed out that and asked my sister why you let the clothes dry here. She responded quickly that these were not their clothes. We pulled them with some effort to find out that they were hooked to the metal caps of the nails on the roof. Led by curiosity, we pulled them to discover that they were only rug pieces of the garment (torn pieces of a Kameez and Banyan). It was backside of the house with an opening of lantern on that side, indicating that the other intruder had fled from there. My eyes couldn’t believe to see some droplets of blood on the gate of the fire gap between the neighbor's house and that of my sister’s. This added to the confirmation that my sister was not a victim of mass hysteria but of a physical braid chopper. 

The author is a PhD scholar in Management Sciences and a resident of Sopore.