A group of rationalists spent a winter night in the small obscure railway station in West Bengal’s Purulia district, which had been recorded as ‘haunted’ by the railways, to bust the myth.
The group found a few locals trying to scare them away from the station on Thursday night instead of any paranormal presence, a member of the rationalist group said.
Begunkodor station, located near the Ayodhya Hills and 50 km from Purulia town, had earned the distinction of being a ‘ghost station’ after 1967, the year its station master had reportedly died after seeing a white sari clad woman walking along the tracks in the night.
The incident had caused passengers to desert the station and it had come to be known as ‘haunted’ in the railways records.
Begunkodor had been closed since then and was listed by railways as one of its 10 ‘haunted’ stations in India.
The station was reopened 42 long years later in 2009 by Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as the railways minister.
Since then trains stopped at this obscure station and passengers used it only till 5 pm scared of encounters with the ghosts.
A nine-member team of the rationalist organisation Paschim Banga Bigyan Manch, armed with torches, digital compasses and cameras, had camped at this station with police protection on Thursday night and busted the decades-old myth.
Nayan Mukherjee, who led the team said, “We were at the Begunkodor station in Purulia district from 11 PM on Thursday night till the early morning hours the next day but there was no nocturnal activity.”
He said the team did not see the ghost of a woman who is said to have committed suicide years ago or the apparition of the station master, who reportedly haunt the station. “We could only spot a snake in an adjacent well,” Mr Mukherjee said.
The team had heard a peculiar noise from the darkness behind the station building deep in the night, he said. “When we focused the torch light on the surrounding bush at around 2 AM we saw four to five people, who appeared to be locals fleeing from the spot. We chased them for a while but they ran away.”
The station was being touted by certain people for some time as a ‘ghost tourism’ spot to attract visitors. Some of the locals apparently scare them away with the noise and steal their belongings after they flee out of fear, he said.
The digital compasses and cameras installed in the station compound by the team did not pick up any sign of paranormal activity, Mr Mukherjee said.
The Superintendent of Police of Purulia district Joy Biswas said the team had asked for police protection which was given to them.
He said the police and the administration were aware that Begunkodor station was known as a ‘ghost station’ among the locals and had started night patrolling in the area recently. Efforts were also made to create awareness among the people over the public address systems.
“I have asked the the superintendent of police to take necessary steps in the matter,” Purulia District Magistrate Aloke Prasad Roy said.