Aliens in India? A brief history of 'UFO sightings' from around the country
A much-anticipated report by the United States government, published last month, may have left conspiracy theorists and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial investigators disappointed in their expectations, but it probably has not dimmed their enthusiasm one bit in spilling the beans. The report, reviewing as many as 120 incidents of unidentified aerial phenomena ("UAP"; somewhat of a deviation from the more popular term - "UFO") in the past two decades, said that there was no 'conclusive evidence' linking these sightings to any actual extraterrestrial contact. However, the Pentagon was careful enough not to rule out the possibility of such.
Alien life enthusiasts, many of them right up the alley with QAnon acolytes and flat-earthers, observe World UFO Day on July 2 with a host of their favourite conspiracy theories on the web. Much remains to be said, though, about "UFO sightings" and the related science-fantasy fanaticism in India.
Hollywood may have all but ensured that whenever extraterrestrial life does contact our species, they would choose the United States as their preferred destination. Despite such odds against popular imagination, talks of sighting unidentified flying objects here in India have been up for decades.
One of the earliest of such instances dates as far back as 1951, when members at a flying club in New Delhi reportedly saw what they described as a "cigar-shaped object" appear in the sky near the Delhi Flying Club hangar.
The object disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, in a swirl of white cloud, according to the eyewitnesses present at the site. "The witnesses shouted out and 17 to 20 people rushed out of the hanger and saw the object. The object headed south for about 3 minutes where it made an apparent loop coming back over the field. At the top of the loop, it was out of sight but came into sight again in its dive," read a report of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) describing the incident. "The speed of the object was estimated to be three times greater than cruising speed of a British Vampire jet."
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Most of these reported sightings, however, came with the advent of the 21st-century, which saw the rise of the "alien chasers" with their camcorders.
On October 29, 2017, a "fast-moving object" in the sky was spotted in eastern Kolkata and filmed on a handycam. The object was reported to be emitting a bright light, resembling a halo, and triggered a tizzy wherein hundreds of people gathered along the EM Bypass to catch a glimpse of the "UFO".
Predictably, however, the object was later identified to be Venus.
From 2013 onwards, reports mentioning such UFO sightings -- from Chennai to Lucknow -- were fairly common. These would usually consist of some "bullet-shaped object" in the night sky, which hovered for around 10 minutes before disappearing.
A notable account from around this time, though, is from August 4, 2013, when Indian Army soldiers at an outpost in Ladakh reported to have spotted UFOs over the Ladan Kher area in Demchock. In the preceding seven months, more such unidentified flying objects had been seen over border areas in Arunachal Pradesh, the armed forces later said.
The US government's UFO report may remain largely inconclusive as far as the scientific consensus is concerned, but for alien chasers in India, who grew up on tales of X-Files and Kubrickian fantasies promised in pop sci-fi, the "truth" is still out there.