As the reports of braid chopping incidents seem to be reducing pace, and the authorities still apparently clueless about the perpetrators, the effects can be seen on an already affected business sectors on the valley.
As much as the alarming braid chopping incidents in Kashmir has hit the psyche of people in Kashmir, it has hit the business too.
Be it the market in the city center, showrooms or food joints, every business seems to be going through a tough time. The old guards of the business community and fresh entrepreneurs express shock to see the impact of braid chopping on their sales.
Women-centric business showrooms like W-Women’s World and Madame located at Jehangir Chowk in the city center claim to have as much as 50 percent decline in the sales.
Ajaz Ahmad, Manager at ‘W’ told Free Press Kashmir that prior to the braid chopping incidents, their business was going well. However, since the mayhem started, they have suffered a fifty percent decline in their sales and are yet to recover.
“We were doing well. For example, if in a month our sales would be around Rs10 Lakh, they went down to Rs5 Lakh which is a 50 percent decline. Since ours is a woman-centric business, we are badly hit,” says Ajaz.
Ajaz also says that women would visit the showroom up to nine in the evening. After the braid chopping incidents started, they have to wind up the business at 6 pm.
“Many of our customers told us that they couldn’t come because of the fear of braid chopping. Whosoever would come late would do so with a male accompanying them and would leave in a hurry,” added Ajaz.
Majid Khan, a salesman at Madame nods in agreement.
“We would get around 40 to 50 customers in a day. After the braid chopping incidents started, it has gone down to 15 to 20 customers per day. At around 4, women would stop coming,” says Majid.
Owais, Manager at Spykar-Men’s wear showroom told Free Press Kashmir that their sales also went down to 50 percent.
“Even we are afraid to leave after 7.30 pm. Yesterday in Chanapora, another braid chopping incident happened. So the fear lives on. Only the Almighty knows how much time it will take for us to recover,” says Owais.
Javid Parsa, an entrepreneur and owner of a popular food joint and Arsalan Sajad, co-owner of a Café say that their business has gone down to 40 percent. Parsa and Sajad’s businesses usually see a heavy inflow of young men and women.
“The flow of women now is also very low. It has started to get better now but during the initial days of braid chopping, about 70 percent of women had stopped coming. The women crowd would come during the day. Even they have stopped coming. There’s no doubt that braid chopping incidents has stopped women from going out,” says Parsa.
“After 7pm, males, as well as females, stopped coming. Our manager from South Kashmir was stopped at many places at by the people who would be vigilant those days. You never know if someone might attack you or might take you as a braid chopper and then turn it all against you,” says Arslan.
“Even at Boutiques, the sales have gone down to 45 percent. We could never comprehend that the impact would be this much. It was not something too violent, but they attacked the dignity of women. Whoever did this must have been a genius, they created the impact!” he added.
Whatever might have been the aim of the alarming braid chopping incidents in Kashmir, whoever might be doing it, the unanswered questions: Is it mass hysteria or are these real events, the declining rush of women in public spheres points out to the fact that the fear of the ‘braid chopper’ lives on.