Agartala: In the night, it emerges out of darkness and disappears, leaving a trail of fear and panic. In the sleepy Ganganagar village under Dhalai district of Tripura, there persists an uneasy calm as locals believe paranormal beings, some kind of an ‘evil spirit’, dwells in their neighborhood, haunting innocent children residing in the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).

Entrance to the KGBV Ganganagar hostel

KGBV is a girls’ boarding school that was established in the year 2012 for underprivileged students from the seven Autonomous District Council (ADC) villages under the limits of Ganganagar rural development block.

The hostel first shot to limelight for the wrong reasons after six years of establishment. In 2018, a series of alleged “paranormal” events sparked panic among locals. The villagers still vividly recall how two girls behaved erratically then and allegedly overpowered the villagers who went there after reports of chaos from the hostel.

Even as four years have passed, the villagers feel the same shadow of fear and panic spread over the village once again. On June 27, the fear of the unknown returned to the hostel and the village as an eerie reminder of the events from four years ago. 

The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) hostel.

“The villagers rushed to the hostel on June 27 after hearing that a girl was freaking out after experiencing something paranormal. The Block Development Officer and cops from the Ganganagar police station reached the spot to find out what had happened,” Brajamohan Reang, a Ganganagar villager, told EastMojo.

“But it wasn’t new for us. We had gone through the same thing four years ago,” he added.

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Recalling the 2018 ‘paranormal’ incident

Brajamohan insists he has little faith in such things. “I am not a believer of paranormal things. But, the way the girls reacted in 2018 was unprecedented. Five of us could not control one girl who seemed ‘possessed’. Thankfully the incident this time is limited to a sighting only.”

A corridor inside the KGBV hostel

Anil Reang, another resident of the same locality where the hostel is situated, described the 2018 incident as an experience right out of a Hollywood horror movie. 

“It was exactly like the spooky movie scenes. The girls were creeping along the surface with their hair reversed in front of their faces,” he told EastMojo.

While rubbishing the recent controversy, however, KGBV Ganganagar warden Manakshi Nath called the chain of events in 2018 “extremely horrific” and that they lingered for almost a year. 

The ‘haunted room’

“Under pressure from the locals, I have allowed the people to sacrifice pigs in front of the hostel as part of their traditional ghost-busting rituals. Christian clerics had also visited the hostel and performed prayers. Although I never believed in such rumours, locals were adamant that something needs to be done for the purification of the place,” Nath told EastMojo.   

In 2018, the authorities had responded to reports of mass hysteria, when students at the hostel had suddenly started dancing, weeping or behaving in other unusual ways

After receiving reports of mass hysteria, the Tripura Science and Technology Department conducted workshops in the hostel after the 2018 incident. According to authorities, students at the hostel had suddenly started dancing, weeping or behaving in other unusual ways. 

Senior Scientific Officer Ayan Saha, now posted at Udaipur Science Centre, said, “We arranged a six-month exercise in the hostel after receiving complaints of mass hysteria. We did scientific experiments and conducted a lot of confidence building exercises such as proper lighting across the building, installation of CCTVs and diverting their attention towards extracurricular activities such as singing, playing physical games like football etc.”

The ‘haunted room’

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What happened on June 27?

All the students of KGBV are enrolled with the Ganganagar English Medium School, and both the school and the hostel are located within walking distance inside the same compound. The area is crowded and bustling with activity, students and teachers during the day, but wears a deserted look once school gets over at 4:30 pm. 

Only students in classes VI to X are eligible to stay at the KGVB hostel that runs under centrally funded Samagra Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme.

The old Ganganagar market

On June 27, Radhika Reang, new to the hostel as a class VI student, was enlightened by her seniors about the past ‘paranormal’ incidents at the hostel that they said were later prevented by performing rituals.

Later that day, Radhika, who hails from the 14 Mile village located a few kilometers away from Ganganagar, saw a shadowy figure clad in a white saree-type attire. 

“I was so scared and ran out of the room screaming,” she told EastMojo

Ganganagar English Medium School where the students of KGBV hostel are enrolled

Her parents took her away that day, but Radhika returned on July 4. She has not experienced any similar inciddent since.

The KGBV warden, however, rubbished the “ghosts” in her hostel story and said she wouldn’t risk the lives of 75 girls if such a story were story. 

“I was so scared and ran out of the room screaming,” Radhika said of her encounter with the ‘ghost’, a shadowy figure clad in a white saree-type attire

Manakshi Nath has been in charge of the hostel since 2012 and lives at the premises with her three-year-old son. 

“I have never sensed or experienced anything ‘paranormal in these 10 years. I was on leave on the day of the incident and received a call from the part-time teacher, who told me that the students were panicking after sensing something unusual. I told her to take all the students to one block and look after them till I join,” Nath told EastMojo.

The local Ganganagar primary health centre is located right next to the KGBV hostel

Upon questioning the students, Nath came to know that some of the senior girls were discussing occult practices and rituals of inviting spirits while playing in the evening. 

“Incidentally, Radhika was left alone in the course of playing. Now, as she was already scared after listening to her seniors, she seems to have freaked out in fear.”

Nath then called a parent-teacher meeting after the incident to placate their fears and as per a resolution reached during the meeting, students returned to the hostel on July 4. 

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The hostel mess

BDO Ganganagar C L Ksanga said he has told the school authorities and the police station to tighten security in and around the hostel.

Officer incharge of Ganganagar police station, SK Jamatia said adequate security is posted in the hostel and no one apart from that class VI students have seen anything recently. 

The backyard

Class X student Priyanti Reang said she has never had one of the alleged paranormal experiences till date. “I have never seen or sensed anything abnormal here in my 4 years at the hostel. Because the locals raised hue and cry on the day of the event, all the students left the hostels out of the fear of the unknown.”

Other senior students that EastMojo spoke to echoed similar views and said they were forced to leave the hostel because their parents insisted, out of fear.

The living quarters inside the KGBV hostel

According to Science Officer Ayan Saha, the problem is with local culture and the environment the children grow up in.

“People in these areas still look for cures in occult practices. To tackle such a situation, we need a collective approach from the society and most importantly, involvement of community heads is required,” he said.

Pastor of the local Presbyterian Church K Vanlalthlanga said people in the area are sceptical of science and prefer prayers to hospital when sick

Pastor of the local Presbyterian Church K Vanlalthlanga holds similar views. 

“People of these areas are skeptical towards science. They don’t go to hospitals when they get sick but ask us to perform prayers for them. I have also visited the hostel and found nothing there. It was a completely false story that took the shape of a rumor and spread all over like a wildfire.”

A team of science and technology department officials is expected to visit the hostel for investigation. 

Head Master of Ganganagar English Medium School Prasanta Debbarma said the hostel and the school were now running smoothly

Head Master of Ganganagar English Medium School Prasanta Debbarma said the hostel and the school were now running smoothly. “The parents have been convinced to send the students back and no such incident has been reported since,” he said.  

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