Men are attacking women and cutting off their hair in India

More than 200 such incidents have been reported in the last six weeks 

Lydia Smith
Friday 20 October 2017 15:18
Activists of separatist groups hold placards during a protest against alleged braid chopping incidents in Srinagar
Activists of separatist groups hold placards during a protest against alleged braid chopping incidents in Srinagar

Scores of women have had their hair cut off in Indian-administered Kashmir, in incidents known locally as "braid chopping".

Police in the region say more than 200 cases have been reported in the last six weeks. A number of women have also been attacked and drugged before their hair was removed.

It is not known whether it is the work of one attacker or a group of people.

​Kashmiri women often have braided hair, which appears to be a target for the perpetrators.

Shaqeela Sajad told the USA Today newspaper that she was cleaning the front veranda of her home in Srinagar when she was attacked by a man in a mask.

The 24-year-old, who is currently pregnant said he held a handkerchief over her face.

“When I opened my eyes in the hospital, I found out that my braid had been hacked,” she said,

Police in the region are still seeking a motive for the alleged crimes and have offered up to 600,000 rupees (£7,000) for information about the culprits.

Some vigilante groups have formed in response to the attacks and protests have taken place across Kashmir against the government’s “failure” to track down and apprehend the culprits.

Clashes erupted between citizens and Indian forces in the Mehjoor Nagar area of the city of Srinagar this week, which led to the shutdown of businesses and schools.

Tear gas and pellets were reportedly used to disperse protesters.

Concerns have been raised the attacks are politically-motivated, as the Kashmir region has witnessed an insurgency since 1989 by rebels seeking independence from India or a union with Pakistan.

Some pro-independence leaders have claimed the braid-cutting attacks are part of conspiracy by the Indian government, to undermine the separatist movement.

More than 100 cases of braid-chopping were reported in Delhi and neighbouring states earlier this year.

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