If the unexplained deaths of people linked to the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh weren't murky enough, the bungalow in Bhopal from where the Central Bureau of Investigation looks to crack the case is clouded by a mystery of its own.
Situated in the posh Professor Colony, bungalow ‘B 10’ has over the past few years built an image that misfortune will fall upon its occupants or they would be forced to vacate it prematurely for some odd reason.
Owing to its tag of a “bhoot bangla” or abode of the ghosts, many politicians and bureaucrats have allegedly discarded the bungalow or shifted out soon after moving in. To explain the notion, locals cite a few unpleasant incidents starting with the death in a freak road accident of B 10 occupant Laxman Singh Gaud, a key minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, in February, 2009.
The rumor mill at work, says official
The bungalow allotted to the CBI team probing the Vyapam scam has earlier brought misfortune to its occupants, locals claimed. After the death of Laxman Singh Gaud, a key minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Cabinet, in a freak road accident in 2009, the sprawling white bungalow, built in 1949, was allotted to the district panchayat department. But the entire department had to vacate the premises within a few months after its chief executive officer Gyaneshwar Patil got tangled in a scandal over allegations by his male secretary that he sexually harassed him in the office toilet. The mystery around the bungalow deepened when senior IPS officer Anuradha Shankar shifted out barely two months after moving in, without citing any reasons.
On the CBI’s request for independent accommodation for its 40-member team, the State government allotted the bungalow. The outcome has been the surfacing of fresh gossip over the ‘haunted’ bungalow.
Those living in the proximity of the bungalow, however, find little merit in the theories that it is inauspicious or home to paranormal activity. “They say there is some kind of an apparition in the bungalow. And nobody stays there for a long time. But personally, I have not seen or heard anything,” said a mechanic who sits outside the building.
Before the CBI was allotted the bungalow, the premises functioned as the zonal office of the local intelligence bureau. Though yet to move in, the intelligence bureau officials had spent more than 50 days pruning the garden and tidying up the place, but only to be asked to vacate the space for the CBI, said Ajay Awate, a wireman of the State PWD. “We do not know for how long the CBI will stick here,” said Mr. Awate, who along with a team of mechanics is working tirelessly to make the bungalow ready for official use by the sleuths.
To add to the speculations, sources said the CBI team brought a vaastu expert to inspect the premises. While the CBI officials could not be reached, State officials said they were not aware of any such visit. Sub-engineer Harioudh Sharma said talk about the bungalow being ‘haunted’ was nothing but the work of the rumor mill. “There is no evidence of any odd behavior. Our staff have worked there before but never faced anything abnormal. Perhaps, people think there is something wrong with the house as some of its occupants have moved out rather soon after occupying it. Their reasons were different,” he said.
M.G. Chaubey, the chief engineer of the irrigation department, lived here peacefully. So did a former judge of the National Green Tribunal, Mr. Sharma added.
The local officials were yet to get an official intimation of the CBI team shifting to the bungalow. Sources said the CBI was looking at other options as well and that it inspected another prospective bungalow. Officials believed that the residential bungalow would not be enough for the team, whose number is expected to swell as the probe progresses.