Insane nearly set ablaze in Sopore, sane nearly drowned in Hazratbal
Asif Iqbal   
Srinagar, Oct 20: An angry group of people tried to set a mentally deranged person to fire on suspicion of him being a braid chopper in Sopore and in Srinagar, a man was beaten up and nearly lynched by drowning in Dal Lake during a visit to famed Hazratbal shrine.
Similar incidents have been reported from some other parts of the Valley where braids of more than 150 women and girls have been cut by unknown assailants during the past month.
The police and witnesses said that a mob caught hold of the mentally deranged person and thrashed him severely on suspicion of being a braid chopper in Sopore’s Pothkhan, Nowpora area on Friday.
The victim who was later identified as Waseem Ahmed, a resident of Sharakawara village of Baramulla district, was surrounded by a mob of about 800 people which after beating him to the pulp tried to set him on fire, said Sopore’s Superintendent of Police, Harmeet Singh.
The officer said that Ahmed was rescued by the police and taken to a Srinagar hospital in critical condition.
The police said that it has registered an FIR and identified some people involved in the attack with the help of videos that have gone viral on social media.
“We will make arrests soon,” he said.
Following the incident, clashes erupted between irate crowds of youth and the security forces. The latter fired teargas canisters to disperse stone-throwing mobs in the area.
In Srinagar’s Hazratbal area, a mob tried to lynch a person after accusing him of being a braid chopper.
The police said that he had come to Hazratbal to offer fajr (dawn) prayers at the famed shrine but was “mistaken” as a braid chopper by the locals and beaten up mercilessly. The mob also tried to kill him by drowning him in the Dal Lake, the police said.
A day earlier, a Special Police Officer who was on a visit of the area to meet his brother, a student of Kashmir University, at his rented accommodation was also beaten up by a mob on suspicion of being braid chopper.
There have been fresh protests across the Valley over the alleged braid chopping acts and the police’s failure to arrest the culprits. At places, these protests turned violent after which the police and central paramilitaries used tear smoke and swung bamboo sticks to quell the stone-throwing mobs.
The police also announced a reward of Rs. 600,000 for credible information leading to arrest of the person behind braid chopping. However, the authorities are clueless and no formal arrests have been made, so far.
The police said that not only have vigilante mobs thrashed innocents mistaking them for braid choppers which has resulted into the death of, at least, one person, the situation has been seized by some people to settle personal scores.