India's ghostbusters find their niche

It began after the birth of Nikhil M Bhat’s second daughter. When she was nearly six months old, he noticed that she used to talk to the walls and laugh. He initially brushed it off as a “normal” occurrence with newborns, but claims that he himself felt “spiritual presence” in his house and even experienced “funny things” around him.

Similarly, while training to become a commercial pilot in Florida, USA, nearly a decade back, Gaurav Tiwari began experiencing odd things in his apartment. “I never believed in paranormal phenomena as I have been brought up in a family of non-believers. But the things that we were experiencing, were a challenge to my preconceived belief system,” he says.

So, to find out what exists beyond normal human life, Tiwari started exploring the field of paranormal research, and in 2009 established Indian Paranormal Society in Delhi to educate people about the “reality of paranormal through a humanistic and scientific approach”. Likewise, Bhat went on to set up the Indian Spiritual Society (in 2013) with a mission to “solve spiritual and paranormal problems”.

“As technology is increasing, so is the thirst in people to know the real. People now want to experience things before believing in it. In India, I have been working hard for the last seven years to open people’s eyes toward the reality of life,” says Tiwari.

Explaining further, Akshai Sthalekar, founder of Mumbai-based Indian Paranormal Team, says that people have slowly started understanding that there is more to science than what is learnt, and are eager to research on paranormal and spirituality. He, however, says, “When you investigate, hold a mindset that paranormal does not exist. Find science behind each and every thing you observe. If you cannot find enough scientific proofs for the occurrence of those happenings, then you may call it paranormal.”

While sharing that they are flooded with cases to investigate, experts say that they have a very strict screening process to filter psychological versus genuine cases. But then, what signs prove that a place is actually haunted?

“Odd shadows or strange lights, items disappearing and reappearing, feeling of being watched, faint voices or your name being called, disturbance of electrical equipment, abnormal and sudden changes in temperature, strange animal behaviour, unexplained smells and physical manifestation of a spirit or entity,” Soumen Roy, founder, Kolkata-based Systematic Paranormal Investigation, Research and Intelligence Team (SPIRIT) tells Metrolife.

“Most of these signs alone can be easily explained. But when they occur repeatedly in conjunction with each other, it becomes something worth looking into. And, if multiple people observe them, it becomes much more impressive and harder to ‘disprove’,”
he says.

Concurs Bhat, and says that a successful paranormal investigator needs to have inner strength and self motivation. “Essential part is to have knowledge, and if you can understand the basic logic of paranormal you can become a successful investigator. Also, an investigator needs to be friendly with the spirit to gain their trust,” he says.

What procedure is followed to ascertain the suspected paranormal activities? Tiwari says that there are three primary objectives in any investigation: to help the client, help the spirit(s) (if possible) and find answers, and hence gain insight into the greater
mysteries of the universe. The tools generally used include infrared cameras, digital recorders, cameras, thermometers; thermal imagers; and motion sensing devices.

“When an individual contacts us, we conduct an initial telephone interview about the events. After determining that further investigation is warranted, we conduct an onsite investigation to learn more. Next, we examine our data, do further research if necessary, and then discuss our findings with the client. We then provide them with a CD of relevant evidence upon request. We understand that contacting a group such as us can be a big step for many people; therefore, we respect their privacy and maintain confidentiality unless permitted otherwise. It is important to reiterate that through the whole process, we not only help the client to understand what is happening, but also help them feel comforted and understood, he says.

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