As usual, I called my mother around lunch time to chat about lunch recipes and ask her what she had prepared. But this time, her tone was scared.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I am outside the house, on the thatched roof of a small store,” she replied.
I was amazed as it was her lunch and prayer time. I enquired as to why she was there.
She replied because it was easy to yell from there to alert our neighbours if the braid choppers came.
I was dumbstruck.
The new wave of terror in Kashmir is called ‘braid-chopping’. Over dozens of braid-chopping incidents have been reported in Kashmir. Women in Kashmir have to face this new terror whether they are walking on roads or sitting in houses.
Initially, it started in the villages before slowly moving to towns and later to Srinagar. The other day, braid-chopping turned into beard-chopping as an Imam’s beard was chopped off.
What is going on is the question in everyone’s minds but no one has the answers. Not even the protectors of the state – the police. The police had initially announced ₹3 lakh as reward for providing information about the braid choppers. As the intensity of braid chopping increased, the reward money also doubled to ₹6 lakh.
The interesting part is when any braid-chopping incident takes place, and if an alleged braid chopper is detained by the public, it seems to me like the police appear out of nowhere within the shortest time and take the person into their custody.
Some people have also suspected army personnel behind these braid-chopping incidents.
Many analysts term this new wave of terror as diversionary tactics by intelligence agencies. Last week, the first death due to fear of braid-chopping was reported when an elderly person was hit with a brick after he was misunderstood to be a braid-chopper.
I don’t know when this terror will be stopped. I hope the Jammu and Kashmir police – who, I feel, are only good for firing pellets and bullets – prove their competency by finding out the braid chopping gang.