The Hindustan Times is reporting that police in Western Rajasthan are at their wit's ends trying to solve a bizarre series of cases reported by families in the region. Reports claim that women and girls are being plagued by a "hair cutting ghost."
Baburam Meghwal, a resident of the Jodhpur district, told the Times:
"A few days ago, my 13-year-old daughter Asha (name changed) was sleeping in the night when someone chopped off a thick bunch of her hair. We came to know about the incident when she woke up and started crying."
Many citizens believe that a group practicing black magic is involved. These evil magical practitioners purportedly have the ability to shape-shift. It's said they gain their powers by cutting the hair of unsuspecting females.
Meghwal expressed the same concern that residents have been discussing in hushed tones:
"We suspect occult activities and the supernatural being involved in this as there was no outsider present in our house during the time of the incident."
Usually, the incidents occur when the women are sleeping. In some cases, the victims are put to sleep, perhaps via a gas. Tarachand Lakhan told reporters about the attack on his family:
"I work at a hospital as a fourth class staff and was on duty when the incident happened. My family was watching TV when a strange smell started to come through the cooler and they all fell asleep."
Lakhan said after they awoke from their strange slumber, they discovered a lock of their fourteen-year-old daughter's hair near the front door. The family was so concerned they conducted a spiritual ceremony in the house for clearing and protection:
"We were extremely worried after the incident and had to conduct a pooja in our house to ward off any evil force that was behind this phenomenon. I didn't go to work for the next two days and stayed guard at the house."
A rural Police Superintendent voiced concern over the rapid spread of rumors and stated that the incidents were mostly affecting poor areas:
"We are investigating all the occasions, but so far, it's not clear who all are behind the phenomenon. Most of these incidents have taken place in the remotest of villages where literacy is very poor."
Adding to the growing panic, messages have been appearing in WhatsApp groups, warning villagers about evil spirits active in their communities. Terrified citizens have formed groups to patrol the streets, looking for the culprits.
The panic has been a boon to "bhopas," purported 'godmen' who claim to be experts on various mystical matters. These mystics claim they can offer protections against the evil entities...for a fee. Government officials have criticized the bhopas and the attempt to cash in on the situation:
"The bhopas are flaring up the situation by spreading unnecessary panic for their own profit."
Authorities are trying their best to control the growing panic, sending representatives out with nightly village patrols to prevent innocent people from being harmed. They have few leads on the source of the messages and are still attempting to get to the root of the panic.