Are hair attacks just mass hysteria?
NEW DELHI — A scare has gripped women in north Indian states following mysterious incidents of women having their braids braid cut off while sleeping, police said on Saturday.
According to the grapevine among women a hair-cutting “ghost” is roaming Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and the national capital Delhi, laying its hands on braids of women. So far more than 50 women have reported that they woke up to find their braids chopped off.
With the number of reported incidents rising, the Indian police has been struggling hard to solve the mystery of who — or what — is responsible.
Most of the victims told their relatives and police that they fell unconscious and woke up to find their hair gone. The women believe that some supernatural beings are behind the incidents.
So far there are few clues for the police to go on and people have been urged not to spread rumors about hair-cutting ghosts or witches. Meanwhile, three new incidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.
The panic-stricken women were taken to hospital and their relatives showed the chopped hair to doctors and local media.
“Most of the victims have found their cutoff braids next to them upon waking up,” a police official told Xinhua News Agency. “Some of the victims said the attacker was an elderly man, while others say they have seen a black cat and witch carrying out the attacks.” None of the victims has been harmed or robbed.
“We have recorded the complaints, but so far we have no leads to investigate,” the police official said. “At the crime scenes there are no clues and victims are perfectly all right without any evidence of having suffered an attack.”
A 53-year-old woman Sunita, living at Bhimgarh Kheri of Gurgaon district in Haryana, told media she witnessed a strong flash of light which left her unconscious. “Almost an hour later, I regained my consciousness to find my hair had been cut,” she said.
On Wednesday evening, a mob lynched a 65-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra district after branding her a witch responsible for the attacks. The elderly woman was going to the fields to relieve herself, when the mob ruthlessly attacked her and beat her to death. So far no one has been arrested.
“Panic has struck the entire locality because of the hair chopping,” Atul Mishra, an Agra resident said. “There is a palpable fear here and we lock our doors immediately in the evening.” The authorities describe the incidents as “mass hysteria.”
“It is a sort of hysteria and somewhat similar to the incident of monkey-man attack that gripped Delhi some years back,” said Aparna, a sociologist.