Raj Kumari Baberya 45, (centre) at her residence in Manpada, Dombivli East. Her daughter Shalini, 16 (left) and neighbour Sheela Kadam (right) were the first to know about the incident on Saturday.
Close on the heels of three incidents in Bhiwandi, of women's hair being chopped off, a fresh incident was reported from Dombivli on Saturday morning. At 11.30 am Raj Kumari Baberya (45), resident of Manpada, Dombivli East, was taking a nap in her bedroom, on the fourth floor of Ragai building where she resides with her husband and daugher Shalini (16). Shalini had gone to the terrace to put clothes to dry when she heard her mother's screams from downstairs. "I came rushing down. My mother was sleeping in the bedroom alone and the door was locked by me from the outside. When we went in, no one else was inside. How could it happen?" she said. Her mother had fallen unconscious and remained in that state for over half an hour after the incident had occurred. "I asked her about the attacker. She told me she saw a woman with a pair of scissors cutting her hair. She tried to stop her, but the lady vanished soon after she had chopped off her hair," Shalini added. They informed the Manpada police. The police, however, are yet to register a case. They are still interrogating neighbours and family members to get their head around the matter.
Not very far, in Bhiwandi
A day before the Dombivli incident, in the wee hours of Friday, 14-year-old Shabina Khatun's hair was chopped off in similar fashion, while she was sleeping. Shabina, who originally hails from Uttar Pradesh, had come to Mumbai two months ago to visit her sister Sajida (21). Speaking to mid-day, Sajida said, "On Thursday night, after dinner, my husband, Shabina and I had gone to sleep. At around 6 am, I woke up with Shabina screaming, 'Don't cut my hair'. She had already fallen unconscious by the time we found her and her hair was chopped off." They took her to a shrine as she was not behaving normally. Sajida's husband Haider Ali was called to the police station for questioning. Sajida spoke of similar incidents having occurred in UP. "Four days ago, one of my relatives there died from trauma after her hair was chopped off mysteriously. Now, I am scared for my sister." When asked about the incident, Shabina said, "I was sleeping when I felt that someone was cutting my hair. I tried to stop him but he had already done it. I couldn't see the person."
A feeling of panic
Fear and panic is gradually creeping in among the residents of Bhiwandi, especially women who are now scared to step out of their homes alone. Yogini Chaudhary (30), mother of three, said, "My three daughters bunked school and tuitions out of fear." Rajkumari Pandit (40) said, "The incidents have left us paranoid, especially while going to sleep in the night. We feel like clutching our hair tight while sleeping. The police needs to solve the mystery."
Ulan Thakre (55), a local villager from the Thakupada in Bhiwandi said, "If such a scary atmosphere continues to persist, we will start patrolling." As of now, the Bhiwandi police are rubbishing stories of ghosts, and have not registered any cases yet. Mangesh Sawant, senior police inspector, Kongaon police station, said, "No one has come ahead and registered a case yet. But, we are making inquiries with affected families to know the facts."
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