Students at a far-flung school in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district have been exhibiting inexplicably strange behaviour such as rolling on the floor that has baffled both teachers and parents.
Kewal Krishan, headmaster of a government high school in Sitti village of Bani tehsil told IANS: "It all started about a month back. Two students in class 1 said they were feeling dizzy. After a while they started weeping and crying.
"We immediately shifted them out of the classroom and brought them into the office. Instead of getting any better, they started rolling on the floor".
The headmaster said after a few days the same behaviour was exhibited by three girls of class 9.
"This put us on the alert. We called their parents who said two of these girls had suffered similar attacks a few times at home, but the parents of the third girl were shocked to learn about the behaviour of their child.
"On June 13, things started getting out of hand as 20 to 25 students, both boys and girls of 9th and 10th class displayed same symptoms in the classroom. On June 14, the number of students showing same symptoms of headache, weeping, crying and then rolling on the floor went upto 50.
"We reported these incidents to senior officers after which the local SDM visited the school along with a team of doctors from Bani hospital. They prescribed some medicines for the affected children, but this did not help as the students again showed the same behaviour.
In the meantime, some videos started doing the rounds on local Whatsapp groups about the students showing inexplicable symptoms. The chief educational officer sent a team of doctors who said that they did not find any medical reasons for the behaviour attributed to the children," the headmaster said.
He said an administrative officer who came to the village also happens to be a doctor.
"He met the affected students. He told us that it was not unusual for children to imitate behavioural symptoms of each other. He also said it is quite possible the affected students are not doing well academically and they have consciously or subconsciously adopted symptoms as excuses for their parents to withdraw them from the school," the headmaster told IANS.
He said wild rumours are doing the rounds in the village that some a "tantric" book has found its way into the village that might have been read by these students.
"Unless we have enough medical evidence and remedy available for the strange behaviour of our students it is natural for rumour mongers to spread fear among the villagers in such a far-flung area," the headmaster said.
He denied that any psychologist had so far visited the school who attributed the behaviour of the students to mass hysteria.