JABALPUR,INDIA: The foremost qualification for a posting to Pandola police station is “saatwik” (pure) character, declares Gokul Suman, former sarpanch of Pandola gram sabha in Sheopur. The expression, he explains, means an austere life. Those who don’t fit the bill, Suman says with all seriousness, “cannot last a day in the building known to be haunted”.
Suman has seen many men in khaki walk in and then walk away in the past year. The last one was driven off by the ‘resident spirit’ approximately six months ago, he added. And since then, the police station has been firmly locked. Policemen don’t fear bandits in this tribal-dominated town in the dreaded Chambal belt. But fighting off unseen forces is certainly not their cup of tea. Consequently, there in no night patrol in Pandola and the villagers are left on their own, complains Daulat Ram Gupta, former chairperson of Sheopur Nagar palika.
The building is a relatively new construction with three rooms. The sanctioned strength of the police station is one sub-inspector in charge, one head constable and four constables. This is how the system worked until last year, before things began to go haywire.
Manohar Singh and his sarpanch wife Vilasi Devi recall, “how the beat constable on duty was attacked, possessed and managed to flee somehow”. Suman corroborates the story and even remembers the duty constable’s name: Suresh Sikarwar.
“These cases happened in quick succession and now the policemen do come in case of an untoward incident, but they carry out their paper work standing in the compound,” Manohar told TOI.
Alarmed by the reports, Sheopur MLA Brijesh Singh demands a probe into the mystery and also a 24×7 presence of the force to clear the air. “Turning a deaf ear will not sort out the problem. Senior officers must go and camp here and see what exactly is happening. This will take away the dread from the villagers’ hearts,” he declares. However, if the problem persists, there is no harm in shifting the police station to some other building, Singh adds as an afterthought.
Sheopur superintendent of police Mahendra Singh Sikarwar trashes the spooky tales. The only reason for the absence of men from the police station is paucity of force, he claims. The building has been locked, he concedes, but “we have not given it up”.
By: Manjari Mishra /Times of India