Indian has been at the centre of some odd and mysterious behaviour, which surfaced recently but has been ongoing since September (2017). News outlets are calling it ‘braid-chopping’, and it is exactly that. Multiple reports have come from Northern India, claiming assailants forcibly removing hair from unsuspecting women. The total number of victims is still unknown but at least 40 women have come forward and filed police reports. These reports have sparked mass protests in the region and mob violence. On Wednesday, 11th October 2017, protests became so chaotic that Australian and British tourists were briefly detained by suspicious citizens. The biggest problem for local authorities is that the motives of the assailants are unknown and none have been caught. This has furthered the outrage and panic among women in the communities.
The accounts given regarding the incident are quite chilling and mysterious. Sami Reyaz, a 32-year-old women living in Kashmir, told Aljazeera, “I was holding a dustbin when two people came through the main gate of our house. When I woke up, I found they had left my chopped braid near the entrance…” This account is like so many others, the assailants leave the braid and drug the women, rendering them unconscious. And fear is spreading rapidly, as women find themselves afraid to be alone in their own homes. Many speculate religious, occult or government individuals as being behind the braid-chopping, but the police have drawn no conclusion. One pro-independence leader had the opinion that, “the government wants to instill fear and divert attention from the main issue…”His opinion is that there are sinister political motives behind the braid-chopping, which is entirely unsubstantiated.
By all accounts it appears the police are hard at work trying to solve this rapidly growing issue, and it is definitely a difficult situation that needs focus and attention. The police have also expressed concern and frustration at some of the fraudulent reports, which have aided in the panic and confusion. The various theories circulating are not helping solve the situation or deal with it in any rational way either. One perspective held by many in smaller communities is that the chopping is of the occult nature, that being a supernatural force (evil spirit) is performing the deed. This opinion is producing and fanning a lot of irrational fear, for example, one village was reported to have been so affected by the situation that villagers hardly left their homes the following day. The fear, especially of the occult, has shaken communities in such a way that they cannot perform daily routines. In one way, it is understandable why many see this as a political tactic, yet regardless of the motive, it is producing the desired reaction from citizens–fear.
As this is a such a recent issue that has surfaced, it is not helpful to speculate and theorize. It is important that the police can be relied upon to solve these mysterious happenings. But until then it is important for individuals in positions of power to refrain from furthering outrage and fear unnecessarily, without knowing the full extent of the situation at hand. What seems to be happening is that a few individuals have jumped on the outrage, pushing an agenda, whether that be political, religious or cultural. None of this is beneficial and should be condemned until evidence is produced and assailants are caught. The confusion has already sparked some violent mobs, there is no reason why anyone should be adding to an already volatile circumstance.