The reason - mobile phone subscribers were informed about a divine infant telling its parents that those who sleep will die. The caller said that the baby with more than four limbs, born at Shaheen Nagar, had warned them of an impending doomsday. In another version of the rumour, the newborn's parents hailed from Pahadishareef.
Those who received the call immediately told their near and dear ones about it. Despite the sheer absurdity in a baby speaking just hours after birth, the people of Talabkatta, Yakutpura, Shaheennagar and Santoshnagar did not sleep the whole night.
Even children were forced to stay awake. Though the police repeatedly urged the residents to go inside their homes and catch forty winks, even public address announcements failed to convince the scared families.
Since many of them were watching local channels to find out the latest on the bizarre news, South Zone DCP Akun Sabharwal made a fervent appeal on TV to not pay heed to rumour mongers. Finally at dawn, it became clear to everybody concerned that they had unnecessarily lost their sleep.
The intriguing aspect is that the same phenomenon was reported nearly six months ago from different parts of Uttar Pradesh. An SMS that is suspected to have originated from western UP warned of people dying in their sleep. Consequently, thousands stayed up throughout the night.
Last week what happened in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts of Tamil Nadu is more surprising. There too an unnatural baby's words triggered much concern. The male newborn, supposedly born at Uthangarai, is said to have told both parents that he would die within 24 hours but not before killing 4000 other infants.
This rumour had such a great impact that elaborate poojas were even conducted in several temples for the well-being of babies born during the past month. Gradually, the panic subsided. However, the authorities are still clueless about who exactly was behind the mischief.