“Haunted tree” in Orissa village creates panic

Updated: Apr 14, 2007, 00:00 AM IST

Manglojodi, Orissa: Panic-stricken residents of an eastern Indian village say a killer ghost that lives on a tree stalks them, bringing true the prophesy of a possessed girl.
Unable to bear the torture for long some of the braver ones
in Manglojodi, a hamlet in Khurda district of eastern
Orissa state pulled down the tree.

The story apparently did not stop there.

Villagers are too scared to come out of their homes once
dusk falls, the favourite time of the 'Ghost who walks" to
make its evening rounds.

Villagers refuse to go near the place where the tree stood,
as they fear that they will meet the same fate of seven
people who died at the hands of the ghost.

Bhawani Behra, a 19-year-old boy who had helped raze the
tree, was the latest victim.

He died coughing up blood and told his sister Anasuya
before dying that he saw a white cat moving spookily about
the tree.

"Till date seven people have died after touching that tree
since March. Everybody is scared of going anywhere near the
tree. Children do not go to school and college anymore. By
six in the evening, all is quiet and people are scared to go
out even to the local shop. The murderous spirit seems to
have paralysed our village," said Anasuya.

Children take a circuitous route to school and villagers
talk in hushed tones, lest the deadly ghost hear them.

The felled tree still evokes panic amongst villagers as the
tale acquires newer dimensions, adding credibility to the
words of a possessed girl who had prophesied that the ghost
would claim 21 lives.

"The prophecy of a possessed girl seems to be coming true.
The spirit seems to have gone on a killing spree. Some time
ago, the spirit had possessed the body of a young girl and
said that it will take 21 lives before Dussehra (a Hindu
festival)," said Laxmidhar Behra, the chief of the
village's governing council.

In India's rural areas superstition is quite prevalent and
villagers prefer black magic to medical treatment.

Social activists blame lack of basic health care facilities
for the widespread superstitions.

Bureau Report