I was browsing through my Facebook profile on my laptop. Its timeline from a long time has been displaying videos, images and contents of alleged braid-chopping incidents in Kashmir. It has been over one month these views keep flaunting in front of you once you login to any social media site. The chapter started on September 04, 2017 and like a wild fire it has spread all over the Kashmir valley. Every now and then we see alleged braid choppers being held and beaten to pulp. But so far nothing concrete has come out who is behind this stratagem.
As my mind was revolving around the braid chopping incidents, I heard the noise of footsteps through our lane. It was over 12 midnight and when I peeped out of the window, I saw a middle aged man attired in Pheran (Kashmiri gown). It was an unusual thing as we reside in the area where movement of traffic and people gets curtailed before 10 pm. He was shabby and was looking weirdly around. As my mind was already engrossed in the prevalent braid chopping incidents, I straightaway suspected him as braid chopper. Without wasting any time, I gestured to him, "Tohe kya chu yepaeer karaan? (What are you doing here?)". Before he could utter anything, one of my neighbour who had already got on to the terrace of his house screamed, Braid chopper! Braid chopper! Within a flash, the whole horde of neighbourhood was on the ground. They caught hold of him and started enquiring about his uncommon presence in our territory. He was terrified and scared. Everyone was asking him queries and they started beating him before he could utter anything. He was punched, kicked, smashed, smacked, thumped, knocked, slammed and even abused. The ruthless and merciless beating caused him grievous injuries. He was bleeding profusely and broke down with tears tricking down his face. His clothes were searched but there were only few pieces of cigarettes and no tool, blade or scissors were found.
My all attempts to protect him from beating and listen to his version failed completely as he was badly overpowered by the huge group of people of our vicinity. In the meantime, police vehicles arrived and they asked to hand him over to them. The people declined to hand him over to police and started chanting slogans suspecting him as Army worker. They pelted stones on police vehicles but police burst tear smoke shells and took him forcibly in their vehicle. After that everyone started making bizarre stories surrounding the incident as is common in Kashmir.
The next day, respectable and trustworthy elders of our area went to the police station to enquire about the fate of the alleged braid chopper. They were shocked to know that the person whom we had beaten barbarously is a mentally retarded patient of our nearby locality. He was now admitted in a hospital. His family members were present there with the medical documents which confirmed that he is suffering from anxiety and depression since last 20 years. They were crying bitterly along with the mentally challenged person whom we had suspected as braid chopper. Doctors attending him claimed that he will take time to recuperate from the bad injuries inflicted on him by our brutal beating.
This is one instance where we have beaten an innocent person just because we are facing the case of mass hysteria as propounded by the psychologists. An unruly mob roughed up foreign tourists when they had lost their way which had sent out an undesirable example to the world contrary to the fact that we are known as best in the hospitality with the guests.
In one of the disheartening incident, a 70-year old person was stoned to death in Anantnag on the suspicion of braid chopper. At some places rag pickers, Bihari labourers, lovers and drug addicts were also badly beaten just because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Attack on the modesty of women is unbearable and it cannot be allowed to happen in our society. Braid chopping is an ugly scene which has found inroads in Kashmir after it previously occurred in different parts of the world and across the India as well. So it has to be looked into with broader perspectives rather than in the contours of the prevailing conflict in Kashmir.
We should not pay heed to rumours as there are many mischief and rumour mongers who always play pranks for amusement and fun. Social media is helping these pranksters. It creates fear psychosis which badly impacts the behaviour of human souls which in turn makes him or her the victim of mass hysteria. There may be genuine incidents of braid chopping but we should not blame it on any group or party without having any authenticity. We should not use violent ways to protest against what is still a mystery. A 5-year old boy Sibti Hyder of Gangoo was injured at Pahoo, Pulwama when he was hit by a stone on his head. What was his fault? Was he involved in braid chopping? Why are we becoming the nation of vigilantes?
So we should ponder that giving unnecessary attention to rumour mongers is severely damaging our business and day to day life. There are so many business hawkers who are fearful to go to any region fearing they might be suspected as braid choppers. Even relatives and friends don't visit to their respective relatives or friends. Few days ago a youth was beaten ruthlessly in Kakapora area in Pulwama when he was visiting to his aunt on his motorcycle. Where are we heading. The world will laugh at us if they will come to know about our ridiculous acts. The media fraternity needs to play an important role. They should not circulate anything without verifying the authenticity of incident. Let's all confront this menace without targeting the innocent beings and most importantly we should prevent the spread of rumours.