Seema Akthar

Since last month, incidents of braid-chopping have been reported from across the length and breadth of Valley with people protesting against the menace. Scores of people including mentally challenged, non-local labourers, and tourists were mistaken as braid choppers and beaten mercilessly.

Two burka clad women from Habba Kadal area of Srinagar’s old city, were also beaten when they gate-crashed into a marriage function to eat wazwaan. 80-year-old man from Anantnag was killed after he was hit by a brick on his head.

As people are seen taking law into their own hands and are on beating spree, it shows where we Kashmiris are heading towards. It seems those with vested interests are hell bent on defaming the soldiers by accusing them of behind the braid-chopping.

We should not pay heed to rumours as there are many mischief and rumour mongers who always play pranks for their amusement and fun. Social media is helping these pranksters and it creates a fear psychosis which badly impacts the behaviour of human souls which in turn makes him or her 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 the 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?

Last year, rumour mongers got people on streets on the rumour that polio drops caused deaths. Moreover, we should never forget the killing of Asrar Dar of Maisuma in 2009 who was killed by his friends on the love tangle and then his killers had protested violently for three days in Maisuma area and had blamed police for the killing. It was only after the investigation done by police which had revealed that the friends who were protesting against his death were his real killers.

Furthermore, in the same year, one of the relatives of JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was an auto rickshaw driver was strangulated to death by robbers. That time too, the blame was put on police for his death. Later on, investigations carried out in his death unravelled his killers as robbers who had robbed him in his auto and strangulated him to death.

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 these days 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 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.

Sharing a personal experience, few days back, I along with my brother went to our friend’s house in Soura area of old city after a long time. On guessing the house of my friend, few locals cornered my brother; I told them that he is not a braid chopper but my brother and that we are here to visit our friend’s home. Had I not accompanied my brother, he too would have fallen victim of self-styled vigilantes.

Mentally challenged, deaf and dumb, non-local labourers, tourists, locals, and soldiers were tagged as braid-choppers but they all proved to be innocents. Army under operation Sadbhavana are doing a lot of things via medical camps, carrier guidance programs, recruitment drives, flagging off student tours; even saving lives during natural calamity. Now blaming them is a wrong conception. On one hand, army is taking such initiatives for the welfare of people and on the other hand, will they waste all this they did in recent past.

Before taking law into our own hands, we shall understand what the fact is.

The author is pursuing her post graduation through University of Kashmir and his views expressed in the article are her personnel.