Exposing The “Miracle” Of Blindfolded Sight- The Story of Ranjana Agarwal

Written by June 23, 2010 4:30 am 44 comments

This is the story of a little girl of fourteen and the ambitions of her mother whom we met at the studios of Live India TV channel on the evening of 18th June. The story begins on this date, when I received a call from the channel asking if I could visit their studios if I was in Delhi. When the call arrived, Shubrum, Rakshi and I were on our way over to their house, after a very important and successful meeting with the present director of Vigyana Prasar Network, Dr.Anuj Sinha. Since Shubrum had a meeting, Rakshi and I decided to go for the live broadcast to investigate the case of this girl, Ranjana. It was the claim of her family and some others that she had the unique power to see blindfolded. Some of these folks also accompanied her to the studio. It was claimed that she had been given a certificate by the Ministry of Human Resource Development that she had the power of seeing with a cloth tied over her eyes! That was supposed to be in recognition of her ‘unique talents’. It was quite clear that this girl who was from a village near Varanasi wanted to go places!

Ranjana Agarwal with her mother who was manipulating her

Ranjana Agarwal with her mother who was manipulating her

On the panel which went on air at 9 pm there was an astrologer, an ophthalmologist, Rakshi and myself. The discussions started with the so called “unique talents” of this girl, with some prerecorded footage of her showing her so called remarkable talents! Then the whole drama started. The opinions of the panel were asked.The ophthalmologist said that the phenomenon needed testing. The astrologer, as to be expected, said that it was a case of supernatural powers. Rakshi said that there was nothing supernatural and I promised that by the end of the program I would prove that she had no supernatural powers.

The tests started with a blindfold being tied round the girl’s eyes and a newspaper shown to her. She brought it down at such a low angle that she could read it through the gap between the blindfold and her nose! When I said this was something that anyone could do, the blind fold was tied around my eyes and I was asked to read something held higher. Obviously I could not do that. That was said to be my defeat in round no.1! The discussions continued and when it was Rakshi’s turn she said it was to be seen as to how this girl was doing it. The anchor kept on harping about the unique talents of this girl and how these were recognised by the govt of India, throughout the program!

Then we took a break and there was an argument between the anchor and Rakshi! When the show was off the air, heated discussions were going on. Though I tended to agree with Rakshi, I am a veteran of many such shows and decided to hold my peace in the larger interests of the movement. This was followed by more heated arguments and Rakshi went off the air. But the panel continued without her and so did the nonsense!

Two pieces of cotton were kept on the girl’s eyes and the blindfold put back on. Again she managed to ‘see’ a paper held before her eyes, through the same gap. When I suggested that I would put the blindfold properly on her the anchor declined and said that I would get my chance later! That was never to come! In the meantime there were many other superfluous things going on, They were showing footage from Mahabharath, the part where Kunti put her unique powers into Duryodhan etc. The astrologer was harping on about the powers of Sanjay in the Mahabharath who could read written words from miles away! So, I pulled out a currency note from my pocket and challenged the girl to read its serial number from ten feet away. The astrologer backed out saying that the events he mentioned had happened in Threthayuga and it was Kaliyuga now!

indi-tv_pujariThen came the denouncement! The next chance to prove the so called miraculous powers of the girl was another test. She was to have dough applied to her eyes and be asked to read the words. I said that I wanted to participate in this and went near her with two pieces of sticking plaster in my hands. I had observed where the gaps were between the blindfold and her cheeks and wanted to apply the dough to that area. When the ophthalmologist got ready with the dough, the girl complained that her eyes were hurting and that she was having problems seeing! I had anticipated this, as I could see the girls mother signaling to her, apparently out of the sight of all the others, that she should say no! The very sympathetic anchor said that she was a small girl and hence should not be subjected to more trauma! He who was keen up to that stage saying that we would conduct more and more tests to demonstrate these unique powers of the child, suddenly turned very sympathetic when the going got really tough.

I had got ready with the plaster, but there was no question of applying it now as the girl was shedding copious quantities of tears. The whole drama had been planned and carried out in such a way that the girl would be let off when it came to the crunch. She was to be ready to cheat when the criteria were not rigorous, and when really tough tests were to be applied such a drama would be enacted to get her off the hook! But, I was not willing to be a party to this. I was very vehement that the whole thing was a drama and asked why the rigorous criteria of applying dough to her eyes was not done in the first trial. I also wanted to know why I was not allowed to access the girl the first time! There was no need to go on for an hour when the so called miraculous powers could have been exposed in a few minutes.

The whole thing is about TRPs. They wanted to sacrifice a child at the altar just to improve their viewership. It was obvious that the driving force behind the whole farce was her mother who wanted to bask in the glory of her daughter’s unique “talents”. The whole exercise was fueled by the ambitions of the TV channels to improve their ratings. In fact before it went on air I was requested to wait for some time before I expose this girl, as the whole show was to go on for an hour or so.

Those in on this plan wanted the so called special powers of this girl to be certified by us, which is why I had been invited. This invitation led to their exposure and downfall. In the process, the child was hurt and had to undergo humiliation in public. But the very relevant issue here is that the child was put up to this sort of exploitation. The anchor had been talking all that time about a ‘testimonial’ awarded by the Ministry of HRD, govt. of India. I was wondering, on what grounds did the government issue this “testimonial”? How could have this department verified that this girl had the ability to ‘see’ with her eyes blindfolded, before issuing the testimonial? The anchor was also bragging about the ‘certificates’ issued by some local govt. medical officers. Who had given them the authority to certify this so called miraculous power?

This certificate produced by the girl's mother appears to be a fake. No mention of Ranjana Agarwal can be found in her name. If this is a case of fraud, forgery charges must be brought against the mother.

Edit: On further checking this certification has been verified to be genuine. The target now includes the ministry of HRD, the government of India, which has so carelessly declared that this girl has the ability to see blindfolded.

While the child’s alleged miraculous powers were exposed on the show, what was the gullibility level of those who certified her? Did none of them have any sense as to see how she was reading blindfolded? My conclusion was that Rakshi had been right from the beginning. It was not about the exposure of so called ‘miraculous’ power, but about a greater exposure of how a publicity-hungry parent, TRP-crazy media and gullible public joined to make a celebrity out of an ordinary myopic girl who was peeking at things held under her nose through the gap between the blindfold and her cheeks. The case needs a more thorough investigation by some agency looking out for children’s welfare, because Ranjana Agarwal is only fourteen years old and legally still a child.

Professor Narendra Nayak is the President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA). He regularly tours the country, giving demonstrations and holding workshops to develop scientific temper.

This post was written by:

- who has written 103 posts on Nirmukta.

44 Comments

  • Well, I dont know where to post this but I just wanted to bring to your group’s awareness on this topic –

    What do you think about the Program on Discovery Science – Stan Lee’s Superhumans.It is a program where they showcase people who have different unique capabilities that makes them be extraordinary to others.For example, a person has the capacity to survive cold, then there is a guy who eat anything.They try to do a medical examination to find if there is any difference when compared to others.Some of them have been found to be physiologically different while some have developed these features as a result of training their mind.

    What do you think about the authencity of this program,
    Especially on this guy – current Mohan,who has the capacity to survive any amount of electric current passed through his body

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YVFUaU7zcI&feature=related

    Do you think the claim has been properly validated?,or is fraud or he is physiologically different but he is an exception

    Thanks,

    • Satish Chandra

      You could post it on the forums. Or if you are on facebook, on the Nirmukta group.

    • But nearly every person appearing in that program will be checked for his supernatural powers by some doctors or professors. And many powers have come to them due to their practice also. I have watched many episodes of this program including that Current-Mohan episode. I think the ones showed in that program are true. Now-a-days even History TV 18 is also showing it. So, it needs to be true

  • sharib alam

    wonderful god’s gift……vow grt…..thx 2 god

  • Bodin-Hullin

    Here is the video of the tv-show :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3SX_1HEGnw

  • To Nirmukta or who ever has written this article

    When you have aired this up on TV with your exclusive interview, why hadn’t you put up video here. Without any proof, its waste of your time and our time.

    Agree with Qualia that some people have supernatural powers. Any video of your interview?

  • Sachchidanand Dhar

    To The Rationalists Society Of India:
    Sir,
    A very common fallacy among the people is that a pregnant woman should not cut any vegetable or chicken, mutton etc. during Solar Eclipse or Lunar Eclipse. I submit a suggestion to expose this fallacy by the Rationalists Society of India. They should find one of their pregnant woman members, or pregnant family females or pregnant believers in rationality- to cut lots of vegetables, chicken, mutton, lemon, Round yellow/ red pumpkins etc. during Solar/Lunar eclipse. This experiment should be carried out using scientific methods and fully recorded for posterity apart from being witnessed by Government People, NGOs, representatives of religious organisations, MCI etc. Post delivery , the baby should be shown to be unaffected. That would really expose the blind-believers. I will change my views also.

    • This inspirational chapter from 1926 in the autobiography of Gora, shows the way.
      Here is an excerpt:

      On joining me, Saraswati left orthodox habits and adopted the atheist attitude. An incident was significant in this context. At Colombo she was pregnant with the first child. When she was carrying the fourth month, there was a solar eclipse in the afternoon. Hindu orthodoxy imposes the disciplines of silence and shutting up in a dark room for pregnant women at the time of any eclipse. Non compliance is threatened with mutilations of the child to be born. But Saraswati saw Buddhist, Moor and Burgher women freely moving about in the streets of Colombo, regardless of the time of the eclipse. Surely, some of these women must be pregnant too. If the evils of infringement were real, all pregnant women should be equally affected and their children should be maimed, irrespective of faiths. But that doesn’t happen. Therefore, the disciplines relating to eclipse are a superstition of Hindu faith. Thinking along these lines, Saraswati transgressed the taboos at the time of the eclipse. After the full period, the delivery was normal and the child also was normal. The experience equipped her with the credit to persuade other pregnant women to give up the superstition. We have nine children now. Both solar and lunar eclipses occurred at different periods of her pregnancies. Nothing untoward happened to us on account of the violations of restrictions imposed by custom on pregnant women during eclipses.

      • Sachchidanand Dhar

        I have not heard of mutilation by exposure. Kindly note that Suspected Mutilation is by Use of Knives to Cut Vegetables and Meat etc.
        I have also read of an experiment carried out by a lady scientist in India on pregnant rats etc. which proved that it was not a superstition. I do not have the details to offer to you though.
        All one rationalist has to do is to carry out a scientific experiment of her/his own and publish the findings.

        • The burden of proof is on the party making the more extraordinary claim. In this case, non-contact mutilation is clearly an extraordinary claim. How extraordinary the claim is can be gauged by asking the questions in the Shermer Baloney Detection kit. The extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claims can therefore legitimately be demanded by rationalists from the claimants.

  • I saw the videos and unfortunately i have to say that i jus wasted 30 mins of my life on it. I am shocked as to how in such modern times, people can be so ignorant. Its a clear case of cheating and trickery. Stupid female and a lot of stupid people to follow

  • I respect the girl’s confidence … she really had the guts fool so many people or may be she was forced to do it .. For all anti-science people — Why did she even open the book to read .. she could have read it without opening the book. There was no need to blindfold her..they could just cover the book,or any object and asked her to describe it…this could easily (in)validate her claims..
    By the way, there r some people who can see UV …and that is simple to explain ( it happens after cataract removal surgery ).. http://www.petapixel.com/2012/04/17/the-human-eye-can-see-in-ultraviolet-when-the-lens-is-removed/

  • faisal sahar

    james randi foundation was holding a milion dollar for any one who can even cause a spec of dust to move from its place to another by super natural phenomonen, many people came forward with their claims and all of them were exposed as fraudesters.

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