It happened to me too: First-person accounts from Indian UFO enthusiasts
“I was about five years old. It was the summer holidays. I was with my grandmother on a cot outside our house in Dehradun. I looked up and saw a lit-up red disc hovering above a bank of clouds. It was soundless. I asked my dadi what it was. She didn’t know. I asked my elder sister, who was in the kitchen. She guessed it was a helicopter. So why is there no sound, I asked? She stepped outside and looked up but the craft had vanished.”
That’s Kamal Pant’s tale from 1987, an event that he believes was an encounter with an extra-terrestrial space vessel.
It left such an impact on him that he decided to study UFOs, trawling through the range of theories online about the kinds of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that have visited Earth, what technology they might have used, and what kinds of creatures they might have carried.
“To me the knowledge of why they are here is more important than the fact that they are here,” says Pant, now 39 and a software engineer, “because believe it or not, we have that answer. They are reaching out to us and welcoming to us into the cosmos and into the places in creation where Mankind has not so far been allowed. And that is the answer that will create discomfort in you and at the same time completely free you from fear, doubt and disbelief.”
In 2014, Pant says he also photographed and filmed “a mothership taking off from and landing on the moon”. He mailed NASA about it, he adds. He heard back a month later, via email. “Someone from there asked me to ‘stay away’.”
Does he have this email, Wknd asked. “No. My system got corrupted a day later, and some of my videos vanished. My computer had been tampered with.”
This is often how it is with first-person accounts of encounters with aliens.
As with Fox Mulder in the X-Files, there are unshakeable memories, inexplicable experiences and nefarious forces at work at every turn. The evidence vanishes, the incontrovertible proof is lost, the story is all that is left.
“You gotta believe me, Scully,” might as well be the anthem of the UFO enthusiast.
It doesn’t help that the accounts vary wildly, with UFOlogists of different persuasions arguing almost as much among themselves as they do with the world at large. The vessels seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Some are described as small spots of light, others as giant cigars. Some move in strange patterns, others are just hovering bright lights, usually white or red, but also multicoloured.
The US has reported the most UFO sightings, but India has documented its fair share since the 1950s.
One of the earliest accounts on record is from March 1951 New Delhi, when 25 members of a flying club saw a cigar-shaped object in the sky that they said was about 100 ft long. One of the most recent accounts comes from Hitesh K Yadav, 23, founder and head of the bi-monthly zine UFO Magazine India (he also has a YouTube channel called Disclosure Team India, and heads a team of volunteers that investigates UFO sightings and encounters across the country).
“The most recent UFO sighting happened on June 27, from 10.50 pm to 3 am at Manipal, Karnataka. Four dots of bright light appeared in the sky, without any apparent origin. The UFO seen in the video is very much similar to a UFO witnessed in Gujarat a few days ago, so we are very eager to investigate it,” Yadav says.
The footage reached him through his network of UFO scouts. His own encounter goes back a bit, to 2002. He saw an alien at his home in Chandigarh, a 4-ft-tall greyish creature that he awoke to find floating outside his room, before it gently vanished.
It’s a close-knit network, the web of believers. Running an investigative initiative similar to Yadav’s is Ramkrishan Vaishnav, 31, an entrepreneur from Rajasthan and founder of TOP (The Other Planet) Research Group, set up in 2008 to investigate UFO sightings. Among the volunteers at TOP is Pant, who saw the hovering red disc as a child. Some, like Kumaresan Ramanathan, have also enlisted with MUFON, the global Mutual UFO Network based in the US. Ramanathan has been a “MUFON-certified UFO investigator” since 2012.
“This is very difficult area to pursue,” says Pant. There are naysayers and people are always questioning the sightings. “There was a point last year when I almost quit. But then I reminded myself that different people have different opinions. I think the ETs have been here, around, for many thousands of years. Broad-minded people know that we are not alone in the universe. That keeps me going.”