Srinagar continues to reel under braid chopping fear

A knock at the door early in the morning makes Asiya Farash, a house maker, suspicious. Since the mysterious braid choppers cut her neighbour’s braids, she suspects everyone who passes by her house at Batamaloo here.
The repeated knocks increase her suspicion and she yells, ‘who is at the door’. And Abdul Samad, the milkman replies, ‘Dood wala’, and Asiya takes a sigh of relief and opens the door.
“She is not the only women who is reluctant to open the gate. Wherever I go these days to sell milk, I have to wait for 15 minutes outside the gate because everyone is scared,” says Samad.
“I have now decided to change my work hours and starting working in afternoon, when people are walking on the streets, so that no one suspects me as a braid chopper,” he said.
The growing incidence of mysterious braid chopping has not only created panic among women across the summer capital, but also affected the work of milkmen, and hawkers who are fear of being nabbed by people.
At Nowgam, where two incidence of braid chopping has happened, Ramesh a garbage cart puller, who picks up bottles and other waste material from the open fields, has been asked by the neighbours not to come to the job. They think he is also a part of the braid chopper gang.
“We can’t trust anyone. This is a big gang, we have heard,” said Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, a resident of Nowgam
Ramesh, who has been collecting the garbage from past nine years in the area, also quit the work after a 27-year-old woman’s braid was cut.
“I clarified that I haven’t been involved in any mischief, and since then I stopped coming to Nowgam, for I thought if one more incident of braid chopping happened, I will have to face the heat of the people,” Ramesh said.
The menace of braid chopping has also had an effect on the movement of beggars, who have been restricting themselves from going door to door.
The non-local beggars, especially who would be seen begging at the highway have all of a sudden disappeared.
A group of beggars from Rajasthan, who stay on the city outskirts at Lasjan, have been planning to move to their place for some time, till the fear of braid chopping subsides.
“People have started suspecting us as braid choppers, whenever we go to beg, they tell us that we are braid choppers. Since the incidents of braid chopping started picking up pace , people are not giving us money, we are at loss,” said Karisma, a beggar from Jaipur.