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Ghost in the Campus

delhi Updated: May 27, 2008 13:12 IST
Sarat C Das
Ghost in the Campus

Any apparition, if limited to a few flimsy sightings in historical ruins or in dark and deserted bungalows, is always questioned on its veracity. However, if such an experience of supernatural is publicly acknowledged by an Ivy League Institute the paranormal experience becomes a more believable proposition.

The reports published in India and international press surrounds an uncanny tale of a supernatural in Indian Statistical Institute's New Delhi Chapter located on Sansanwal Marg near Qutab Hotel. On August 24, 2004, a new entrant to the institute's MStatistics program died in the classroom succumbing to a festering heart disease. Startled classmates crowded around him for possible medical aid but with no avail.

"The ailing student was always little withdrawn and living on a frugal diet of fruits," told an old security guard to Hindustan Times. "I suspect he was mentally ill too," he added.

However, more frightful than the death of the student was the tale of the deceased remaining in the campus - in his incorporeal form. He continued living his campus life the way he way he did before - wearing cologne, smoking cigarettes, and playing pranks with others. Many students claimed seeing him stalking the long corridors in the evening, knocking on doors in a fit, and jostling the students off the stairways.

"A girl who never smokes, felt a strong stench of cigarette in her bathroom," said Saptrishi, a student representative of the institute reported in a newspaper.

Many others seconded the claim of the girl student narrating their creepy experiences of smelling deodorant and aftershave which announced the presence of the deceased.

Reuters reported: "Fear of a ghost who knocks on doors and wafts the scent of aftershave lotion along corridors has forced a prestigious college for statisticians in the Indian capital, Dehli, to close".

"Students of the Indian Statistical Institute say the ghost of a dead classmate has knocked on doors, jostled them on staircases and left traces of aftershave lotion and cigarette smoke."

Following a series of bizarre incidences the institute called off the classes for a week and the fear-stricken students were allowed to leave their hostel for home. To make way for divine intervention, the students were also officially provided vehicle to visit temple. Some campus residents even consulted sorcerers for exorcising the ghost.

Rajeev Karandikar, then the head of the institute, found it difficult to ward off the media. Annulling classes and allowing students to stay away from the campus had compounded his problems -- he was portrayed as an obscurantist.
Rajeev Karandikar meekly defended: "A fear psychosis had gripped some students, so we thought it was best to allow them to go home if they wanted to."

It took a few months for bringing the institute back on an academic calendar. Many students on their return to campus were still afraid to be alone in the campus and they were dreadful of nights.

Four years after, today, the story of apparition seems to be on the wane but the old security guard and many others testify to the boy's shadowy existence. People, who know the story, still feel uneasy in the night while alone in a corridor or climbing a stairway. Perhaps in the hindsight they know how precarious their foothold can be as many in the past were so brutally pushed off the stairway occurring to swollen knees and bleeding shins.