By Rohit Ghosh - March 21, 2004 (IANS)
People of a village in Madhya Pradesh are facing hostility from an unseen and a mysterious enemy.
The people of Ratria village in Neemuch, a district in western Madhya Pradesh, for the last one week have been coping up with unexplained fires and stone pelting. And they do not know who is behind them.
Not only the villagers, even the district administration and the police have till now failed to provide any solace to the villagers.
The villagers feel that if their problem is not solved soon, they may soon face shortage of water. "Our wells have started drying up fighting the fires," said a villager.
Ratria is a village around 20 km from the district headquarters of Neemuch, with a population of 1,000 people. Most of the villagers are farmers.
It all started a week back when a fire suddenly broke out in the village.
The villagers did not find anything unusual in the fire. Assuming that the fire resulted from the stub of a cigarette, short-circuit or a matchstick, they doused it.
But to the horror of the villagers, breaking out of fires soon became very common. "Fire breaks out anywhere in the village and at anytime of the day," said Sardar Singh Gurjar, the headman of Ratria village.
"We draw water from the wells of the village to douse the fire. The wells have started drying up. Major fires have broken out in the villages 11 times in a span of few days," said Gurjar.
But the villagers of Ratria do not have to have to cope with fire only. "Stone pelting is another problem," said Gurjar.
According to the villagers, they suddenly have to face shower of stones. "Many people have been injured in the stone pelting till now," said the chief of Ratria.
"I was going to my fields in a usual manner a couple of days back when suddenly the stones started hitting me from all directions. I ran for cover," said Ram Deo, a farmer of the village.
"I thought that it was a mischief. But the same thing happened on the following day also," he said.
The harassed villagers informed Neemuch Police about the matter.
Taking the incidents seriously, district police chief Yogesh Deshmukh visited the village. But much to the surprise of Deshmukh, he and his men also came under the shower of stones and had to scamper for saving themselves.
Once the "rain of stones" subsided, Deshmukh sent his men to all directions of the village. He was suspecting the hand of some mischievous person. But all his men returned empty handed.
"We have deployed policemen in plainclothes in the village. Secondly we have decided to take scientists to the village to allay the fears of the villagers. We have also deployed cameramen on rooftops," said additional superintendent of police N P Varkade, while talking to IANS. "We believe it's a mischief," he said.
Last updated 31/03/2004