Parts of North India have been hit by an eerie form of crime. Mysterious men and women are reportedly chopping off women’s braids. The victims range from young ladies to elderly citizens. The cut braids are left on the scene, and no theft or any external injury has been reported.The victims usually reported acute pain in their head and then fell unconscious, with some needing hospitalisation.
The bizarre cases of braid chopping have created an unprecedented panic in the affected areas and left women and children terror-stricken. The incidents are on the rise with no remedy in sight.
The mayhem started in the villages of Mewat and parts of adjoining border areas of Rajasthan with the peripheral houses in the villages being the first target. The villagers resorted to staying awake the entire night and keeping a tight vigil during the day. Most even went as far as seeking superstitious remedies with the Muslims resorting to amulets and the Hindus to lemon and chillies or cow-dung to keep the evil at bay.
The police in Mewat quizzed many beggars and suspects but failed to crack the growing cases of ghost-like appearances and sudden occurrences of braid cutting. According to reports, at least 15 cases of braid chopping have been reported so far in the Mewat region. This speaks volumes about the gravity of this puzzling issue.
The mainstream media woke up to the crisis after Indian Express reported one such case on July 30, 2017, from Gurgaon. Sunita Devi, a resident of Ashok Vihar Phase-III, reported the matter to the police. According to her statement, she was alone at home, cooking dinner in her house at 10 pm. Suddenly she spotted a thin, strange-looking man in his 60s, clad in a red and yellow garment with a trident in his hand, standing at her door. She immediately asked him to leave. When the lady closed the door, the man mysteriously reappeared leaving her unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she found her hair chopped.
This case suggested the suspect to be an old man clad in colourful clothes with a trident in his hands. Some ladies in Mewat recall an elderly woman dressed as a beggar who cut their braids off. Some claimed a cat-like creature appeared before cutting their braids.
The Sunita Devi case was, however, the first to be reported from the Millennium City.
The mysterious braid cutting elements soon travelled to the Capital and targeted three ladies in 12 hours on July 30, 2017. The three cases were reported from a Delhi village with a 55-year-old woman being the first victim who hailed from Kanganheri village in outer Delhi’s Chhawla. The lady was returning from her farm, and on the way, did not come across anything strange or any mysterious creature but felt excruciating pain in her head the moment she entered her house. She gained conscious only to find her braid cut-off and left behind on the scene. In a similar case, another 45-year-old lady was targeted, and her reddish braid was chopped off by a mysterious culprit leaving the victim terrified.
Hours later on the other side of the village, another case of the same nature happened. This time the victim was a 50-year-old lady. She lost her braid under similar mysterious circumstances. In all the three cases, the victims are elderly women who lost their hair, felt pain, fell unconscious and had to be hospitalized.
In most cases, the victims fall unconscious and report extreme pain in their heads. This needs an urgent and thorough scientific probe.
The Delhi police should not take these cases in terms of robbery or female harassment or even revenge due to familial enmity. These strange occurrences go deeper and have a capacity to inflict long-lasting trauma in the minds of the victims. These cases have already sent shockwaves to all those who are living in sparsely populated areas with frequent power cuts or inadequate police protection.
Last weekend, I visited my family in the Hathin block of the Palwal district, and I felt how terrified and perturbed people were in the villages where power cuts were frequent, and electricity eluded several hours during the night.
In most villages of Mewat and people have started keeping night vigils in groups. In some areas like Punhana (a block in Nuh district of southern Haryana) where these cases are rampant and women are scared out of their wits, people have started maintaining high alert vigils to check the mysterious culprits. The Huffington Post reported one such example: “We have assigned our male members or family heads to patrol on a daily basis in two shifts. They are to stay alert 24X7 in order to combat the gang, animal or ghost, whatever it may be, responsible,” said Ram Mehar Yadav, a resident of Punahana.
The police need to figure out and nab the real culprits to put an end to this mayhem. They should carry out a thorough probe in all the cases reported so far to find out the causes and motive to these happenings. Moreover, the police should not shy away from cooperating with other state police for the larger public interest.