A Day after lynching, ‘Ghost-barber’ still on the prowl in western UP

Despite appeal by senior police officials not to believe in rumours, dozens of women of Agra, Mathura and Firozabad and Aligarh reported that their hair was cut by some ‘ghost barber’ while they were asleep. Some such cases were reported from Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh too.
One of the alleged victims in Agra whose hair was chopped off.(HT Photo)
One of the alleged victims in Agra whose hair was chopped off.(HT Photo)
Updated on Aug 04, 2017 12:10 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Agra | By, Agra

A day after a 60-year old Dalit woman was allegedly lynched here as villagers thought she was out to cut the hair of sleeping women, dozens of other such cases of ‘hair cutting’ poured in from the Braj region in what appears to be turning into a case of mass hysteria.

Police said more than 35 ‘hair cutting’ cases have been reported in Braj area and Aligarh in the last three days.

FROM MONKEY MAN TO UFOs

In 2001, people in Delhi said they had spotted a mysterious monkey-like creature that appeared in the night and attacked people.

A year later, people in eastern Uttar Pradesh reported spotting a light-emitting flying object that would attack them at night and scratch their face. Many referred to it as the ‘muhnochwa’, a Bhojpuri amalgam that loosely translates to ‘face scratcher’.

Years earlier, in 1995, a more innocuous mass delusion took place when people across the country reported seeing idols of the Hindu god Ganesha drinking milk.

The police are yet to arrest the accused in the lynching of Maan Devi, who was beaten to death in Mutani village of Agra district. The two accused, who belong to the Baghel (backward) community, are on the run.

Deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Fatehabad, Dr Tej Veer Singh said, “A case has been registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act. We are maintaining a vigil in the area where the woman was killed.”

The DSP, however, said: “The post-mortem report of Maan Devi indicates she died of cardiac arrest and not due to beating.”

Meanwhile, despite appeal by senior police officials not to believe in rumours, dozens of women of Agra, Mathura and Firozabad and Aligarh reported that their hair was cut by some ‘ghost barber’ while they were asleep. Some such cases were reported from Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh too.

Munni Devi, 50, a resident of Dayalbagh in Agra city, complained that someone chopped her hair while she was asleep.

In rural parts of Agra, people are making hand impressions of henna and turmeric at the entrance of their houses, while others are putting up lemon and chillies “to ward off the evil barber”.

A girl and two women from Tappal and Jattari areas in Aligarh claimed their braids were cut by someone but failed to elaborate the sequence of events.

Rajni, a resident of Madak village in Jattari, said she was cleaning her house on Thursday. “When I bowed down part of my hair fell on the floor,” she said.

Read more: 60-year-old woman lynched in Agra after rumours she was chopping people’s hair

Vimlesh, a neighbour of Rajni, claimed she was washing her hands on Wednesday when she suddenly saw her braid on the ground.

In another case, Sajida of Narwari village in Tappal area said someone chopped her hair while she was asleep. Sajida claimed she saw a black cat before the incident.

District magistrate, Aligarh, Rishikesh Bhaskar said it was the handiwork of anti-social elements. “People should not pay heed to rumours,” he said.

Inspector general (IG), Agra range, Ashok Mutha Jain appealed to residents not to believe in rumours and keep calm. “Police are trying to verify the truth of the complaints,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Hemendra Chaturvedi is based in Agra serving as a Principal Correspondent, covering districts of Agra and Aligarh division of western Uttar Pradesh. He has been with HT since 1992 and has completed 25 year of association with HT.

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