Friday, Jul 01, 2022

A Shadowy Hand: Kashmir’s Tryst With Horror

Hallucinations? Fear? Rumours? In the Valley and beyond, people keep finding threats from the unknown

Photograph: Shutterstock

A rumour spread that ghosts were roaming, entering homes, and beating people. The ghosts, all female, had long hair, wore white dresses, face masks, iron claws, spr­i­ngs in their boots and would jump in the air. Soon, people started claiming sightings, saying they would start running after the spirits armed with whatever they could lay their hands upon. The ghost chase continued across the Valley in the cold autumn nights of 1993. Those days, when killings would take place every day, the emergence of ghosts added to the dread.

People would call it “Operation Bhoot”. They believed it was launched by security forces to create fear among the people. Some would call the ghosts rantas, a female humanoid creature whose natural habitat was the forests and hills of Kashmir.