Lost foreign tourists mobbed in Kashmir as locals suspect them of braid-chopping

The situation was beginning to turn unruly when police and few other locals and calmed the mob down.

Six foreign tourists who had lost their way and were mistaken as braid choppers by locals in the interiors of Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar were rescued by police owing to the intervention of some good Samaritans, police said on Sunday.

The six tourists – three Australians and one from South Korea, Ireland and England – were travelling from Leh to Srinagar in a vehicle and lost their way near the old city on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.

Police said that the group was travelling with the help of Google Maps which led them across a link road to city center Lal Chowk.

“On reaching Kanikachi Lati Mohalla, the vehicle was stopped by a group of locals who, on spotting foreigners in the vehicle, created a hue and cry. It caused a large gathering of people on the spot quickly turning into an unruly mob,” said a police spokesman.

The situation was saved from turning ugly as some locals intervened to save the holed up group and called the police.

“With great efforts of the police and some reasonable people, the whole group was rescued,” the spokesman said.

The tourists were taken to a local hotel and were lodged there comfortably by the police and early in the morning, were seen off to their next destination.

Kashmir has seen a number of protests over repeated reports of braid-chopping over the past few weeks. There has been a degree of unease among the women folk owing to the fear of the unknown.

Jammu and Kashmir Police has announced a bounty of Rs 6 lakh for anyone providing information about the braid-chopping incidents in the valley fearing that the incidents could be used to spark anti-India sentiments.

Special investigation teams and round-the-clock helplines have been set up in every district to probe the incidents.

Separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Monday against braid-chopping incidents in the state.

They said it was a well thought out conspiracy and a big challenge for us as “dignity of women folk is at stake”.

“Let us convey a message to these miscreants that in no way we will give up our resistance and will pursue the right to self-determination movement ,” they said in a statement.