‘Ghosts of Maqbool Bhat, Afzal Guru haunt inmates at Tihar jail, authorities provide counseling’

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Srinagar: In a bizarre turn of events, inmates in India’s largest complex of prisons are having sleepless nights as they are being haunted by the ghosts of two Kashmiris who were hanged in the jail years back, media reports claimed.

According to a report by India Toda, the inmates of the jail have complained of unusual happening including being thrashed and slapped by the ghosts during the night hours. Inmates also claim that they have seen the ghost of Maqbool Butt, a Kashmiri separatist who was hanged in 1984. They also say that the ghost of Afzal Guru, another Kashmiri hanged in 2013, haunts them. 

Tihar Jail in Delhi

“Some say they are slapped for doing something that’s bad. Others feel haunted by late-night wails. When they are able to sleep, they claim to have common, eerie nightmares,” said an official. Worried prison authorities are holding puja, counselling sessions and medical check-ups and supplying religious scriptures to inmates who need to be calmed, the report quoted a source as saying.

“In the morning, some inmates complain of severe headache or nausea, allegedly after a horrifying night. Keeping our personal views aside, we send them for medical check-ups on the premises itself for medicines to be prescribed. At times, when the medical supervisor finds it necessary, inmates are also sent to the nearby Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital,” an official told the news organization.

Tihar anyway runs intensive counselling services with the help of a team of doctors from AIIMS and 60 others from NGO Mental Health Foundation (MHF). Obviously, nothing abnormal has been captured by CCTV cameras. But rumours and fears get strengthened by the fact that many inmates have committed suicide and some have been killed in scuffles in Tihar over the years. Hangings have also taken place on the premises.

“I was lodged inside Jail No. 3 for about 15 months. Then I got bail. When I entered prison, I heard stories about ghosts. I thought I was being bullied. A few days later, I heard unusual voices at night. However, I didn’t share it with anyone. But days later, I felt as if someone slapped me. That was the day when I decided to raise the issue with authorities,” a man accused of a triple murder and is now out on bail told India Today. “They didn’t believe me and thought that I am making it up,” he said.

A file image of Mohamad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru

An under-trial prisoner lodged in Jail No. 4 in a drugs case has made frequent complaints about being slapped and thrashed by a ghost, an official said. A 29-year-old prisoner has also claimed to be haunted by spirits.

“He told doctors that whenever he is asleep, his blanket is removed by an unknown presence. Items kept in the barrack are thrown around to create noise. He also claimed he hears whispers,” another official said. Sunil Gupta, former law officer, Tihar Prisons, said that many inmates complained that spirits scared them during his tenure. “In one case, an inmate killed a fellow inmate. He said a spirit asked him to do so. Jail No. 3 is most affected as the hanging area is nearby. We provided counselling as such beliefs affect mental health,” he said.

Rajiv Mehta, Chairperson, Department of Psychiatry, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said high-stress levels could be a reason for nightmares and such experiences, the report mentioned.

“Those who are not habitual offenders are actually haunted and traumatised by what they have done. As a result, they become a victim of depression and anxiety. Apart from proper counselling, exercise, yoga and meditation can help,” the report quoted Mehta as saying.

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