The growing incidents of braid-chopping in the valley have led to the police imposing restrictions in Srinagar on Friday to prevent a protest called by separatists against the menace.
Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest while JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested from his residence to prevent them from leading protests. Mobile internet was snapped across Kashmir for a few hours on Friday to prevent rumour-mongering over braid-chopping.
Protests, however, did erupt at various places in Srinagar with people demanding an end to what they alleged was a conspiracy by security agencies behind the braid-chopping incidents. Dozens of incidents of braid-chopping have been reported in the state in the last few weeks, but nobody has been arrested.
Officials said that residents were beating and harassing innocent people to prevent such attacks. So while the braid-chopping scare has petered out in other north Indian states, in Jammu and Kashmir it has given rise to vigilantism and violence.
In one such incident, residents of north Kashmir’s Delina village beat up a youth on Tuesday. Police rescued the youth and said that he was not a braid-chopper but had gone to meet a friend in the village.
On Wednesday, residents of Nundreshi Colony in Srinagar found two boys moving “suspiciously” and beat them up. Locals helped the duo escape after finding they were militant overground workers.
Two burqa-clad women were beaten on the suspicion of being braid-choppers when they entered a wedding reception in Srinagar without invitation. In Pattan, two labourers from a village in Kupwara were beaten when someone shouted that they were braid choppers.