A 70- year-old man was stoned to death by a mob at Anantnag in Kashmir on Friday mistaking him for a braid chopper. The mob confronted him with stones when he was seen out in the night and  struck him down with a brick. 

This incident is second of its kind in the spate of braid chopping reports. Earlier a similar killing was reported from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, where a 65 -year-old Dalit woman was lynched by a mob.

The victim in the latest incident, Abdul Salam Wani was reportedly out to answer nature's call when he was mistook for a braid chopper wandering out in night, and the mob hit him with bricks.

"He died instantly," said a police official.

Repeated reports of braid chopping have led to formation of vigilante groups, that started patrolling neighborhoods in a bid to keep an eye on the miscreants. Violence by these vigilantes are also on the rise.

Recently a young boy was beaten up by group of people in Delina area of Baramullah distric, over a suspicion that he was a braid chopper. Similar incidents have been reported from Baba Demb and Nishat areas of Kashmir.

 Intelligence agencies groping in dark

Around 30 cases of braid chopping incidents, excluding 15 which were unsuccessful, have been reported in Kashmir alone, prompting night vigils.

"Out of 30 cases, there are three girls who allege chopping of their hair on seven occasions. Four males have reported hair chopping including a government school teacher," a police officer was quoted by Hindustan Times.

"Others caught in the name of hair choppers include a notorious motor cycle thief from Budgam, two forces personnel who were on covert duties, two mentally ill persons, a labourer from Bihar and a youth who had gone to meet his female friend in the evening," the officer added.

Meanwhile Hurriyat (M) Chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was put under house arrest on Friday and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Fronts's Chief Yasin Malik was detained to prevent the duo from leading protests against braid chopping incidents. 

Hair thieves in India: Myth or menace?

"We should stop behaving like this and try not to follow rumours blindly. Contributing to the euphoria by revealing fairy tales, superstitious myths and concocted stories makes our people folk more vulnerable," a police official urged people.

The braid chopping incidents have been reported in states of Rajasthan, New Delhi, Haryana, West Bengal and recently in Punjab.

The police have not been able to find any clue on the spurt of such incidents. As the braid chopping incidents continue to be reported from across the state,  the police, the army personnel and the vigilante group seem to be groping in dark.