Call it coincidental or supernatural.
The ‘ghost of 24th’ is haunting the 62-year-old Guwahati University (GU). Many on the campus are undertaking an exorcising exercise following the third consecutive unnatural death on the same day, in as many months.
GU’s ‘death day’ syndrome began on January 24 with Birlang Narzary, a reader in the department of Bodo language, murdering his student Jharna Wary, 25. Narzary owned up to the crime, but not before trying to kill himself by consuming poison.
Anu Kalita’s fall on February 24 from the roof of the RCC 3 Girls’ Hostel wasn’t deemed as sensational as Wary’s murder. The 24-year-old second semester philosophy student died of injuries on March 3, and the police couldn’t ascertain if her death was an accident or a case of attempted murder or suicide.
It wasn’t until the third death – suicide by 20-year-old Debajit Talukdar, son of a GU employee – on Wednesday (March 24) that the ominous development struck the varsity teachers, employees and students.
“We have organized yagnas (fire sacrifice) and naam kirtan (Vaishnav ritual) to ensure GU is rid of an evil spell,” said university employee B Das. “There is something ghostly about these deaths, otherwise why should they happen on the same day of each month?
Vice-Chancellor Okhil Kumar Medhi termed the deaths coincidental. “Some things defy logic and science such as the date of these incidents on the campus. Some people did organize some rituals, but these are held every year before the mid-April Bihu festival,” he told Hindustan Times.
The students, though, are caught between superstition and coincidence. “You cannot just brush aside the possibilities. Whatever is the reason, we want better security on the campus,” said a girl student declining to be quoted.
“We have taken care of security, often fragile owing to the NH37 that bisects the campus,” said Medhi. The National Highways Authority of India has undertaken a project to divert this highway.