Srinagar: Fresh incidents of braid-chopping triggered protests and clashes in various areas of Srinagar city and other parts of the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday with people complaining that the police was merely watching these events as a mute spectator.
On Tuesday a soldier was beaten up by a mob on suspicion of being involved in a braid-chopping incident in north Kashmir while protests broke out at over a dozen places elsewhere against fresh incidents.
Maisuma locality in the heart of Srinagar city and its adjoining areas observed a shutdown while heavy presence of government forces was made there to prevent any flare up. The movement of the people was restricted there using concertina wires. Shops and other business establishments remained shut in Maisuma, Gawkadal, Basant Bagh, Kokar Bazar, Budshah Chowk while Auqaf market too remained shut.
Protests erupted at Narparistan Fathekadal in old city over an overnight braid chopping incident. Another women of a family was targeted by braid choppers there, leading to protests by the residents.
Witnesses said that the braid of a woman was chopped off by miscreants while during confrontation, the victim suffered fracture in the neck. “The victim’s niece was earlier attacked few days back and her braid was also chopped off,” the witnesses said. (See photo above)
Angry residents blocked Rambagh-Natipora road in the city in the morning to protest against a braid chopping incident in the Beighpora area, the officials said.
They said traffic on the road, which leads to Chrar-e- Sharief, remained suspended for a couple of hours.
Protests also broke out in the neighbouring old Barzulla locality where a girl was allegedly attacked by the mysterious braid choppers during the night, the officials said.
The locals approached the police for registering case but were not satisfied with the response of the law enforcing personnel.
The residents then came out on the main road to protest against the incident, leading to a massive traffic jam, the officials said.
Police had to fire tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters, they added.
Clashes broke out between police and protesters in Reddi Chowkibal and Kralpora areas of Kupwara district in north Kashmir on Tuesday after a woman’s braid was chopped off.
Reports said that locals caught hold of a Territorial Army man, suspecting him to be the braid-chopper.
He had barged into the home of one Ghulam Nabi Peer and cut the hair of his daughter, they alleged.
A hue and cry over the incident brought people in the neighbourhood out of their homes, who chased and caught the man and beat him up, they said.
He turned out to be a jawan of the Territorial Army after his identity card was checked, they said.
People clashed with the police and army who came rushing there to rescue the soldier from the mob, reports said.
A police officer was among four persons injured during the clashes, police said.
A video, showing locals thrashing him while the army and the police were trying a rescue, went viral on the social media.
Army officials did not respond to calls seeking the forces’ version of the incident.
The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for Kupwara Shamsher Hussain dismissed the allegations of the locals.
He however admitted that the hair of the woman had been cut, and that the police would be recording her statement.
“We have launched investigations,” he said.
South Kashmir’s Pulwama district observed a complete shutdown against the braid chopping incident. On Monday, the braid of a woman was chopped off at Dangarpora vicinity of the district.
Reports said that all the shops and business establishments remained shut while transport also remained off the roads.
Auqaf Committee Pulwama organized a protest march that was attended by a large number of people. The protesters alleged that government and district administration have failed to nab the culprits. They raised slogans against police and the government.
Meanwhile, sources said that locals from Kakapora area of the district Pulwama seized a vehicle with Punjab registration plate (PB10B-G3418) when a couple of persons from the vehicle alighted from it and tried to enter into a house. The locals raised hue and cry while unknown persons managed to escape from the spot, leaving the vehicle there.
Locals said that the abandoned vehicle was later on handed over to police. “We are investigating the matter,” said a police official.
Police lobbed tear-smoke shelling to disperse protesters at Gongoo Pulwama who were protesting against fresh braid chopping incident in the village. The protesters had blocked the road prompting police to resort to tear-gas shelling.
Similar protests were reported from Shopian in south Kashmir where protesters hurled stones at vehicles of the security forces passing through the area, the officials said.
Pertinently, over a 100 incidents of braid chopping have occurred in different parts of Kashmir Valley during the past month while police is still clueless.
The victims have told their families and police that unknown persons cut their hair after knocking them unconscious with some spray.
The police have formed Special Investigation Teams to probe the incidents. However, so far the police and the authorities have been clueless.
The police have announced a reward of Rs six lakh for credible information leading to arrest of any person behind braid chopping incidents. So far, no arrests have been made.
At several places, vigilante mobs have thrashed innocents mistaking them for braid choppers.