The braid chopper is here…
It is neither a supernatural power nor a witch or a ghost. The pattern of it is that as soon as its eyes catch new prey its invisible talons let go of old one- leaving everyone smoking up the mirrors and groping around.
What happened a few days ago at Khanyar instantly changed the collective behaviour of people. The fear is palpable especially among females and doors are now being locked just to make sure that hair braid remains safe but the walls are not high enough.
Shall we lock our doors apparently to save ourselves from invisible sinister designs and forces that have induced fear in us?
Shall we lock our doors when police, intelligence, and the puddle of spices permeated state fail to nab them?
Why aren’t we feeling secure when there are so many “security forces”?
Whosoever I meet says, “Lock the doors.” Masjid announcement just makes them double check and sound of double bolting from neighbourhood doors. Collective behaviour is seeping in. Anything can happen with anyone at anytime. We are made to believe so! Or we believed so because of yesterday. They are nowhere!
The downtown whose doors remain open in curfews to tragedies of all sorts seems gripped by unknown fear and paranoia especially for suspecting movements and strangers.
From the “sick and unscientific societies,” of North Indian states to conflict-torn valley, the fear of “phantom barbers” have landed in Kashmir and now in downtown. The sick mentality and devilish designs of those who want to use this fear in their own way in Kashmir are apparent.
Stories are pouring in. The level of fear is going haywire. Panic and paranoia are gripping us leaving us groping around. The victims of braid –chopping are distraught, shocked and the families are agonized and clueless like the rest of masses to state intelligentsia.
Someone is feeding itself by playing with the psyche of society and with the collective attention of it. The invisible players with invisible pawns are leaving everyone startled and appearing and disappearing like a mythical bogeyman. The mob mentality is being prepared. Lynchings are lurking. Collective behaviour is taking shape. Baits are laid.
Police permeated state is clueless. Knowingly and unknowingly people on their much-cherished platform of social media are pouring their sympathies, unfolding their grief, and anger, indulging in muck-racking to reinforcing assumptions and circulating theories and making room for rumours to fake stories that just confirm their pre-existing, preconceived notions. Adding and multiplying to what is already agonizing people. Is there any conclusion?
Everyone is using this hysterical happening in its own way making common man a fall guy and already suffering scapegoat a scapegoat; the female gender.
Different versions come forth: Who is chopping women’s braids in Kashmir? Depends on whom you ask (Scroll.in October 4, 2017).
The police blame Pro-freedom parties and militants and they to India and its agencies. And the common man is a victim of invisible players. Many media outlets termed this happening as fresh ammunition for separatists and militants to corner security forces. Clichéd declarations are coming forth.
Probably no one knows who they are? But the executors know who they are and why they are doing it and for whom?
We all know this much that yesterday at downtowns Khanyar: “Two masked men came inside and asked me to stay still. They warned ‘we will kill you if you raise alarm, then they chopped my braid,” the victim said. To register a protest, people took to streets and demand arrest of the accused. (Daily Greater Kashmir-05 Oct 2017).
There was an announcement from Masjid announcing everybody to beware of braid choppers as the hair has been chopped off at Khanyar at around afternoon. Soon panic descended and people thronged at the site of happening. Soon protests erupted transpiring itself into the expected route of pelting stones at Indian forces and police. The protesters were met with usual treatment from police: collective spicing through pepper tear gases.
Testimonies reveal that the victim was alone at the house with doors locked and the braid choppers jumped from the wall of a nearby marriage hall while the lady was busy on the verandah and they splashed a shot of spray shot at her and she became unconscious.
But who must have informed them which house to enter, when and where and how? They committed this crime in a downtown where the sneeze of a neighbour rattles the windows of another neighbour, unlike newly sprouted colonies.
The shocked family marvelled at the sight of pouring in of people from far off areas apparently to express sympathy but very few converting sympathy into protests against the much intelligent police which is still investigating the crime. Even the protests were like an instant reaction and soon fading off like a fad.
It was as if the visiting people were sadists or perhaps too eager to know what the braided chop which soon will become the talk of the town to the celebrity on social media looked like?
What do chopped hair and the women with a chopped hair look like? Irrespective of privacy to allowing anyone capture a picture for personal journalism and a privilege of being at the site to police appearing like a silent spectator.
The family had to close the door and hide the victim from the collective nonsense approach and attitude of society; the collective curiosity of the society.
They came. They saw. And they left.
Since then fear and anxiety have gripped in making everyone lock doors to thoughts of butcher’s knife next to them and a fear of strangers.
It has qualities of a spectacle, rampant when it is present, forgotten and almost mysterious when it is over. Some of these events have a devastating effect on the psyche of a society. (Hindustan Times August 8, 2017).
Another person, name withheld, who works in state health department told me, and “There is no such thing as hysteria. That is not the case here. They (Indian Government) are trying to create three things out of this for their benefit: one is people will have soft corner for administration especially police department, which Police have lost since they came forward to oppress Kashmiris since 2008, as they are the ones people report the incidents to; second is that politicians have started coming to their constituencies who were barred entry by the people since 2016, the example of which is Sakeena Ittoo; third is to restrict militants from taking shelter in the villages since most of the activities have taken place in villages.” (Daily Kashmir Monitor- October 2, 2017: Braid chopping Mass hysteria or planned conspiracy?)
But why did people protested against police and still police is not able to solve the mystery which is further generating anger and distrust against them. And people, of course, do raise slogans of freedom in every protest.
But is this chopping happening in Kashmir only? No.
More than 50 women in the northern Indian states of Haryana and Rajasthan have reported that they have had their hair chopped off while they were unconscious. Police are struggling to solve the mystery that is leaving women paranoid and worried, reported the BBC’s Vikas Pandey. (August 3, 2017).
The Valley soon joined and the first report of the first braid chopping came in September, about a month after Jammu had reported several similar incidents. Promptly, the separatists blamed the Indian security agencies. In all, according to the police, 35 cases of braid chopping have been reported from Kashmir so far and 192 from Jammu division. (Scroll.in – October 4, 2017).
So while we are walking in dark rooms, living in fake news era, and rumour wings to social media journalism, what is it that is demanded of us? Of us as a collective society with a mental health already deteriorating?
It will be interesting to see the pattern this Ghost with invisible scissors will take? What police will do? And of course irrespective of cash rewards how long will it stay here?
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