Believe it or not, residents of Kopar Khairane have been seized with the terror of a three-headed woman stalking the neighbourhood with supernatural powers. The fear felt by residents of sectors 2, 5, 6 and 8 is so intense that people are marking their doors with names of Lord Ram and three crosses to ward off the ‘monster’.

Though description of the woman varies, there seems to be a consensus that she has three heads, visits at night to prey on infants and small children, mimics voices with worrisome accuracy and death is instantaneous if anybody looked in the eye. Lanes and streets which used to buzz till late in the night look deserted with residents avoiding to venture out, apprehensive of meeting the devil. Residents of chawls behind the RF Naik College have stopped sleeping out in the open for the past one week. “People used to sleep out but once the scare seized them, no one dares,” said 40-year-old Shobha Pingle.

Even though Pingle readily dismisses it as rumour-mongering, she is not willing to take chances and has scribbled “Ram” and three multiplication signs on her door. The rumours only seem to be thickening in the air. “She knocked at my friend’s house two days ago between 2 and 4 am,” said 14-year-old Deepak Gupta, a resident of Sector 2.

“No one opened the door to invite death,” Gupta’s friend Tanmay chipped in. “I heard she comes through the backdoor, so I keep away from it and do not open it after dark,” said another Kopar Khairane resident Tejaswini Nimbalkar, 16.

Reacting to the reports, deputy commissioner of police Amar Jadhav said, “It is pure rumour-mongering.” He advised people to stop paying heed to scare stories. “Anyone found spreading rumours would be dealt with seriously,” he said, adding that the police were maintaining strict vigil to counter the rumours and ensure law and order