Kashmir: The Rape of the Lock

In a silver and crystal bottle, wrapped in three cloth bags, nestled in three wooden boxes, locked in a cabinet, in the innermost of four cells, protected by four guards, a brownish hair from the head of Mohammed has lain for three centuries in Srinagar's mosque of Hazrat Bal. On holy days, the prophet's hair is tenderly removed from its resting place, attached to a chain and locked around the waist of one or the other of five Bandey brothers, the hereditary keepers who alone are permitted to touch the sacred relic and show it to Moslem worshipers in the...

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