The police had received information this morning that an alleged braid chopper had been attacked by locals in the Fruit Mandi area of Sopore, 36 km from Srinagar, a police officer said. The police rushed him to a hospital, but his condition is said to be critical.
Director General of Police of Jammu & Kashmir SP Vaid told news agency ANI, "A mentally challenged mistaken as braid chopper was ruthlessly beaten in Sopore. He has been rescued by the police. An FIR has been registered and culprits identified."
A few men had burnt some grass and were trying to set him ablaze. They also tried to run a tractor over him, a senior police officer said.
"Action will be initiated against the culprits," police said.
The police have offered rewards for related information and taken precautionary measures such as restricted entry of strangers, suspension of mobile internet services and not allowing gathering of self-styled vigilante groups to prevent assault on people randomly identified as attackers by angry mobs.
Separatist groups have blamed security agencies for the attacks and have called for protests against the incidents. But Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called it an attempt to create mass hysteria. She said the government will take steps to "find the motives behind the braid chopping attacks".
These incidents are also slowing down anti-terrorist operations in the Valley, police say. "It is a huge disadvantage for us. Our resources and manpower are now focused on handling these cases," said Kashmir's Inspector General of Police Munir Ahmad Khan.