SRINAGAR: Is it a ghost? Are the young girls possessed? Or is it a manifestation of a psychiatric illness that science can heal? What is the cure of their strange malady?

Investigators are baffled by the scary behaviour of a group of girl students at a government-run high school in Jammu’s Kathua region. The news has caused a scare in the entire Bani area where the school is located.

According to Chief Education Officer, Kathua, Prem Nath, a group of 30 to 40 students started crying immediately for apparently no reason just after the morning assembly was concluded at the school earlier this week.

“When we got to know about the incident, I told teachers there to ask the parents of children living in the neighbourhood to immediately come to school. Other parents were called also and it helped in calming down the students,” the CEO told The Citizen.

A video of the incident, which has since gone viral on social media, shows a group of girls in a trance rolling on the floor of the classroom. Some girl students are seen lying unconscious on the floor.

One girl kneels and raises her arms repeatedly while the person shooting the video keeps asking what was happening to her.

CMO Kathua, Ashok Chaudhary, said a team of doctors was sent to investigate the case, “A medical check up was carried out on the students but they didn’t show signs of any disease. There can be other reasons (for their strange behaviour) which are not related to medical science,” Chaudhary told The Citizen.

However, Dr Arshad Hussain, Professor in psychiatry at Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences Kashmir, told The Citizen that the students might be victims of dissociative phenomenon which is altered consciousness usually outer manifestation of internal distress.

“It is a common phenomenon usually invoked by intense fear and has been historically reported many, many times in schools all over world. Children are prone to it and vulnerability quickly results into mass copying of dissociative phenomena at sub conscious level ,” he said.

The news has caused a scare in the entire area. Locals who spoke with The Citizen over phone said most of the girls have been asked to take rest by their families while some are contemplating admitting their wards to different schools.

“There are rumours that the school is haunted by ghosts. My girl is refusing to go there after the incident took place. I am now planning to admit her in a different school,” Manjeet Singh, a resident of Bani in Kathua, said.

Chief Education Officer, Prem Nath, said the district administration is going to organise counselling sessions for the students, “We have sought help of psychologists to counsel the students,” he said.

“Psychiatry is unfortunately not taught in MBBS anywhere in India. That is why even doctors who are otherwise good in their subjects don’t have sensitivity to mental health issues. Mere normalcy of tests or investigations doesn’t mean the person doesn’t have any distress,” Dr Hussain said.