A strange panic has swept through several villages in India as rumors of a hair-cutting 'ghost' preying on women and girls have left residents terrified.
The weird hysteria began in mid-June when stories on Indian social media warned people in the state of Rajasthan that a group of occult-practicing individuals with shape-shifting abilities were in their midst and derived their power by cutting the hair of unsuspecting women.
The tales appear to have taken hold in the local zeitgeist as, soon thereafter, strikingly similar incidents began being reported to police.
To date, authorities have received at least a dozen such calls about a 'being' cutting the hair of women and girls while they slept.
The father of one of the victims told the Hindustan Times that someone or something snipped off a large chunk of his daughter's hair as she was sleeping.
"We suspect occult activities and the supernatural being involved in this as there was no outsider present in our house during the time of the incident," he told the newspaper.
Another family that fell victim to whatever is behind the strangeness suspects that they had been drugged beforehand because they smelled a strange odor wafting through their home before they all fell asleep.
Upon waking up, they discovered a lock of their daughter's hair on the doorstep of the home, leaving them convinced that they had been visited by the 'barber being.'
So far, police say that two of the cases have turned out to be incidents where the victims had cut their own hair and, otherwise, they have been unable to apprehend anyone who could have been behind the unwanted trimmings.
Meanwhile, authorities are struggling with how to contend with the concerns of residents, who have begun patrolling the streets on their own in a situation police say could lead to innocent people being attacked by skittish citizens looking for the entity.
Government officials also say that the widespread fears have proven to be a boon for self-proclaimed 'godmen' who claim to be able to communicate with various spirits.
Known as 'bhopas,' these purportedly mystical individuals have been telling families that they are in danger from the entity and that the best way to protect themselves is to, of course, pay the 'godmen' money to help ward off the spirit.
"The bhopas are flaring up the situation by spreading unnecessary panic for their own profit," one government official told the Hindustan Times.
As such, local authorities are calling on the Indian government to help dispel the rumors and, hopefully, assuage some of the panic that has spread throughout several villages over the last month.
Source: Hindustan Times