A recent visit to the beautiful valley of Kashmir offered many things from its treasure of resources and serene environment. But a mystery of ‘braid chopping’ incidents in the valley put me again to deep thoughts, when there is peace and when my Kashmir will rise again? It was agonizing to witness Kashmir valley troubled by new players on the scene as ‘braid choppers’. The braid chopping incidents recently had also created panic in the other states of the country. No doubt the incidents have disappeared to a large extent, still there is a widespread scare spread in the society and women in particular are traumatized. They feel more concerned about their safety even in their homes and more reluctant to venture out. So much is the fear in air in the valley that my small son in my home used to say, “Papa Braid chopper will come”. With such a menace on the rise and shrouded in mystery, it is natural to find different theories being proposed by the different stakeholders of the society. Some of them were justified and some unsubstantiated as well. Some have attributed braid chopping to “mass hysteria” and the other sections were of the view that the women do it by themselves consciously just to seek attention. There are others who have related it to planned conspiracy, witch-craft, ghost actions, love game, political drama etc. There are hundreds of cases witnessed till date. To me it is a mystery which the big giants in authority have been unable to solve yet. The issue has been politicized, humored, talked at length but without any serious concerns to identify who was really involved in this menace? A lot of blame game was the routine after every incident took place but our mothers and sisters have been at the suffering end. The braid chopping incidents not only have troubled respectable section of women but others too have been at its receiving end. Everyone in the family has a concern for safety of mothers, sisters or wife etc and lives in state of worry and fear. The businesses and transporters in valley have suffered badly due to women avoiding travel and making purchases. The strike calls adds more to the woes for the poorer sections of the society who have suffered a lot in the valley. The women going for early morning walks too have disappeared. They have genuine reasons to be scared as we have not been able to solve this puzzle yet. This is not only the single impact but anyone on a day without with easy assumptions could have been taken a suspect for the chopping act and given the treatment. Even mentally challenged persons were found beaten to pulp facing the wrath of the mobs doubting them as culprits. If the leaders and authorities in power fail to put honest efforts and unable to nap the culprits, God knows then who is going to do the work for the society? Our leaders too have been without any honest and genuine efforts.
Let’s not forget the recent braid chopping incidents and be proactive towards a safer future
The civil administration equally needs to be supportive rather than adding to the suspicions and fallout. The topography of the valley is complex with the areas covered in dense trees and easy escape route for the choppers. The Electricity department must provide sufficient power in the night hours. It was also pathetic to witness the spray attack on eight girls by four boys in the prominent university of the valley. The girls had fainted and had been shifted to SKIMS, Soura, for treatment. Such poor and miserable actions must not be tolerated at all in this time of grief. We must not forget that indulging in fun can turn into reality and together we have to suffer. Moreover, social networking certainly has benefits but it is not without the bigger limitations. Facebook in particular successfully connected the world to a constellation of real-time communication and broadcasting tools, and then largely left it to deal with the consequences. WhatsApp, the popular social networking tool nowadays has also been flooded with rumors, hoaxes and false stories. Some check system needs to be prioritized so that the content before being posted is checked for validation to avoid consequences. The nub of the problem is the absence of editorial validation in what passes for news on social media. Social media offer tools to broadcast and communicate, without any mechanism to ensure the authenticity of what flows from those tools, with awful results. The solution is twofold: one, the public at large must be educated not to implicitly trust any event narrative that has not been validated by a legitimate news operation; two, social media must tweak its software to display such a warning while relaying any purported development from a source other than a professional news organization (ET View: Social Media Lacks Editorial Validation)
Peace is an important constituent for the growth and development of every state/country. It means peace of mind guaranteed to everybody. It means peace from unfair, unsafe and unprofessional practices. The major stakeholders towards the peaceful atmosphere are police, civil administration, political leadership etc. and above all the citizens of Kashmir. Efforts should be directed to make the system more effective and accountable. Let’s identify our true leaders and develop immense faith in them. Let’s refrain from backbiting and respect our elders in true sense. Let’s educate moral values to our children and stay safe from our greedy nature. Let’s sit on a common table and together show interest towards better and long lasting solutions. Let’s not forget the recent braid chopping incidents and be proactive towards a safer future. Let’s stop this blame game and act together strongly to deter choppers and such wrenching incidents rise again.
( The author is presently Assistant Professor at ITM University Gwalior. His views are personal)