By Peerzada Mahboob ul Haq
Braid & Chopping! Had it been just a question asked in an English examination, which conceivably could have dropped our percentage by 2 marks, for we would not have been conversant with these words, but alas! In hunt of those two marks we involuntarily drove our approach towards somewhere netherworld. Now those 2 marks aren’t only two marks they carry 20 marks in the form of an essay, and thanks but no thanks! Writing an essay over BRAID & CHOPPING is much easier than writing their meaning in one word.
Why is braid being chopped?
Thinking as an unoccupied & unsuppressed and obviously out of the box of the occupation and occupation of mind as well, this question keeps haunting me when I go to bed, it keeps me trouncing severely when I sip a gulp of tea, it goes on hypnotizing me when there are many around. Does this mean it will make me a patient of mass hysteria and I will do self-chopping? Does it? It does not.
For last couple of months, Kashmir has countersigned a new card drawn out of a spectrum of a long going Political conflict, and reaction from masses is substantiating into more dangerous facet. For its generating fear psychosis among common masses, who were brave until now and now can’t even dare to carry a simple razor in their pockets or to go out of after sawing the day off. As the cards are drawn from the spectrum so does the beliefs, analysis, probes etc. there are many parties who make this spectrum and confusing. When the braid chopping began from the southern part of the Kashmir, which is considered as the hub& nucleus of the present insurgent movement, where militancy is as at peak as it was in 90’s rather across the Kashmir, but after the killing of Burhan Wani it grew into new chapter and now it is south Kashmir which utterly provided room to this new chapter and it got well settled. With the settlement of these rebels it sent shockwaves round the corners of the centre in New Delhi, on regular basis Army was dominantly taken out from the standby mode, there were encounters all across. In order to put some sort of end to this, centre with their intelligence heads launched an operation All-out, which is central idea lies into complete extermination of militancy from Kashmir, but this operation utterly failed in achieving what it was tossed for.
So, plotsdesigned physically by centre were ostensibly failing at every step, now centre had to look for the psychosomatic substitutes, which came to them in the form of braid chopping, which completely knocked Kashmir for six, its corroborating more perilous than extermination, its creating fear psychosis, as discussed earlier besides being not able to come out from the home after dusk, its making people to kill their own statesman even a 70 year old man on the suspicion of being a braid chopper was killed, not to speak of so many other cases where innocent bystanders were flogged for no culpability of theirs. This is turning Kashmir into hell even tourists were not spared, but ultimately we can’t blame people for all this clutter, it’s modestly response to stimuli. It’s one of the set of people who are every so often tagged as extremists and who solely blame the state for not providing sanctuary and centre for their selfish interests. One of the critics for state goes like this, Incidents of braid chopping, in a conflict zone, like Kashmir, should be vehemently blamed upon the occupational state, for three interlocked reasons. One; the so-called security apparatus is theirs and theirs only. The incidents perpetuated against a dissenting people can easily be carried out by anyone, particularly the collaborators, when state is in dire need to build up even an iota of support among the psychologically targeted people. Second; in a panoptical like structure, as Kashmir has been reduced to, due to heavy military presence and sweeping information networks, nothing is possible to be carried out, without state noticing it. Finally, these incidents don’t seem to reveal any particular reason for a non-state actor (militants or even terrorist organizations, if there are any) to carry out these abominable crimes against people. Every organization, other than the state of course, tends to send a direct message of their presence and capability by admitting to and bragging about carrying out operations like these.
Now comes the other set who seem to be moderate or not or even moderate in moderate, who came up with the idea of golden mean, who are the state-apparatus, after getting no clue who the braid choppers are, they tend to divert the attention of the innocent people from political mirage to psychological mirage, in which they blamed braid chopping as the derivative of mass hysteria, which unhitched when an Imam’s beard was chopped, and their concept of so called golden mean failed in achieving the goal of boot licking.
But question still hangs on, who the braid choppers are? Who is doing it or who is sponsoring it? Is a question or interrogation that has occupied every one of us? Who is going to uncover it obviously the state which is on a standby and seems to be providing free hand to these mobs. What doesn’t make difference to you makes difference to us. We want to keep the braid and save the people as well. We can’t compromise on either. The failed state and the brutal mob both need a change.
Post Script: Braid chopping has eerily lessened in its intensity with the appointment of the new interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma. May be the handlers of braid chopping have found interest to enable the conducive environment for dialogue to kick start when the revolutionary zeal of people is diverted towards a defensive preoccupation with braid chopping. Why would people take interest in the dynamics and contours of the Dineshwar Sharma-led dialogue process when they are anticipating the mysterious appearance of a braid chopper like a vampire in every dark corner of their house? It is pertinent to mention that the resistance leadership who were some time ago calling the shots are themselves cocooned into the shell after the NIA appeared in the avatar of hangman. Braid chopping was a blessing for the state, even if it is reluctantly assumed that it didn’t orchestrate it, in the sense that the harassed people sought assistance and protection from the state apparatus (police) against which they were up in arms not long ago. A serious trust deficit and legitimacy crisis created in post-Burhan episode was temporarily overcome with the unleashing of mysterious braid chopping. State made a point that it is relevant when peoples’ honour and dignity are at stake. It didn’t capture any braid chopper, nor allowed people to take law into their own hands. What it did was to fill the communication gap with the disgruntled population and monopolized public discourse (it is significant that the police came up with statements after braid chopping incidents, and dismissed most cases as ‘rumours’ or ‘psychopathic’ lies). Almost every person caught by the people was a ‘mentally challenged person’, conclusively passed off as news. People are left guessing. Frantz Fanon must be taking turns in the grave!
Peerzada Mahboob ul Haq is studying Political Science at Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at email@example.com