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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Go away, you're a ghost, family tells prisoner

An Indian man has been banished by his family who are convinced he is a ghost.

Raju Raghuvanshi, believed by friends and family to have died in prison, came home this month after a short jail sentence to be greeted by shouts of "Help! Ghost!" He has now enlisted the help of police to try to convince them that he is alive.

Mr Raghuvanshi was sent to prison in October for a minor tax infraction. He fell ill and was transferred to a prison hospital in another district. Word spread that he had died and that his body had been cremated because no one had retrieved it.

When he returned to Katra, about 400 miles from Delhi, his family ostracised him and neighbours bolted their doors. The frosty reception left him bewildered.

"My family thinks I am dead," he said yesterday. "They will not permit me to enter my home because they think I am a ghost." The best proof he had - that his feet were still properly attached, not turned backward as ghosts' feet are thought to be - was dismissed.

Mr Raghuvanshi said his brothers even "argued that they had completed all religious death ceremonies" and he should not have come back to haunt them.

Rural India remains deeply traditional and many in Katra share the traditional Hindu belief that they will be haunted by a ghost if ceremonies are not performed to ensure the soul of the deceased makes a peaceful transition into its next life.


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