By Taniya Dutta
A new form of mass hysteria has created panic in northern India after dozens of women have complained of their braids being chopped off mysteriously.
At least 15 women between the age of 20 and 60 from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have reported that their braids were cut off mysteriously by force while they were either sleeping or unconscious.
There have also been reports of women passing out due to deep shock and admitted in hospitals for treatment.
Long hair is considered very important and a symbol of dignity for women in Indian villages. The sudden bout of cases has sent shock waves to the people-men and women alike.
“It was around 4 pm in the evening when was sleeping on the cot on the courtyard when suddenly I realised someone was chopping my braid off.
“It happened so quick that I could not do anything. I jumped off in a jiffy and saw my braid was lying on the pillow but there was no person in the courtyard. After that my head became very heavy and it hurt badly,” said Kamla Devi, 56, from Ganganagar in Rajasthan.
Another woman named Guddi from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, said she had experienced unbearable headache and had fallen unconscious after her braid was chopped off.
She said “I was cleaning utensils when some woman with big teeth came and she fainted. When I regained consciousness my braid l was lying there. I immediately informed my family members but no one had heard any or seen anyone there.”
The sudden spate of the bizarre incidents have created fears of ‘evil spirit’s targeting women in the village, some of whom are resorting to superstitious remedies for help.
“We think this is the work of a spirit. We have asked all the young girls and women to paint their feet red and put a paste of turmeric powder at the entrance of their houses. These will ward of the evil spirit,” said Manga Ram, one of the villagers.
While none of the victims have filed any formal complaint yet, the increasing number of cases has put the police in a piquant situation as they are grappling for clues.
Mani Ram Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Mewat, very confidently ruled out involvement of any ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’.
“There is nothing like ghosts. Some anti-social gang is trying to create panic in the region. Police and administration have beefed up vigil and security and have urged residents and villagers not to spread rumours,”
“Local villagers are saying that women’s braids are being chopped off mysteriously. So far no formal complaint has been lodged by any of the victims. But we are looking into the matter and will solve this mystery soon,” added Swapnil Mangain, senior police officer in Mathura.
Women have been advised by their family members, particularly men to tie their hair into a bun instead of braids. They are venturing outside to get fodder and water in large groups.