Over the past week, the fertile imagination of Mumbai’s collective consciousness has been in the feverish grip of some dreaded creatures. Vampires, cannibals and monkey men all appear to have chosen the city as the site for their spring rendezvous. While Mumbai cowers under the covers, cops are having a hard time laying their fears to rest.
Mumbai police have been inundated with reports of sightings of these creatures, but have found no evidence to substantiate them. As mass hysteria sweeps the city, terror-stricken residents are caving into fear and altering their daily lives.
Tip: The Anomalist
It’s all rumors. Rumors are enough to send very superstitious people into a mass panic, not going out at night, reporting everything suspicious to police. As police try to squelch the rumors, this seems to reoccur. For more on Monkey Man, see here and here.
Some of the rumours are assuredly bizarre. In the eastern suburbs, there has been talk about ‘oil men’ who cover their lithe bodies with some slimy stuff so that they can easily slip away from pursuers.Another part of the city has been so tormented by tales of child-lifting gangs with painted faces that mothers are worried about sending children unescorted to schools and playgrounds. Some stories, like that of bands of Africans picking up children, are offensively racist, at least for people who pretend they are sensitive about such things.Other fantastical characters in the telltales wear shoes fitted with metal springs that enable them to jump from terraces of one building to another.
UPDATE (4-Mar-2012) ‘Monkey man’ rumour: Cops arrest 72 in crackdown
The Mumbai Police have finally cracked the whip on rumours about ‘monkey men’ and the ‘chaddi baniyan gang’ floated in city’s suburbs, by arresting 72 people for allegedly spreading the rumours.
Although the East Region police have made the arrests, mostly of local residents, the West and North Region police stations are yet to register a single case – in spite of a death in Kandivali in a stampede-like-situation sparked of by an alleged sighting of a ‘money man’. [sic]
According to Quiser Khalid, additional commissioner of police (East Region), 27 offences have been registered against people for spreading rumours and creating fear and panic.
“We traced the pranksters and arrested them,” said Khalid. “After the arrests, the rumours have died down considerably,” he added.