One night, a woman visited Sawani’s village and stopped by her father’s shop to ask for water. Getting a whiff that she was out to kidnap children, the villagers shooed her away into the forest.In Sumit’s village, for three days after being thrashed with sticks by the villagers, eight-ten child-lifters kept skulking behind a bush, waiting for an opportunity to strike.At Mohammed’s house, two strangers who had slept on the rooftop knocked on the door the next morning. They were beaten up and handed over to the police.While, Sawani heard the tale from her aunt, Sumit and Mohammed said their uncles narrated the incidents to them.Neither had seen a child-lifter being beaten up or was accosted by one, but was sure the lifters wore military uniforms while on the prowl.Now, each of the Class VI students and their classmates at the Government Secondary School at Sukhi Sewaniya village in Bhopal district stick to a set of precautions, especially meant for girl students: never walk to school alone, never go to a toilet on the premises alone and don’t talk to strangers.Rumors of child-lifters on the prowl, being spread with a sinister swiftness on social media in the State notably after the charred body of a three-year-old kidnapped boy was found near his house in Bhopal, have instilled fear in schoolchildren and thereby slumped their attendance by 15% in schools, according to the Education Department.‘Miss my friends’Class VI student Hira Lal, at a school in Chopra Kalan village, said though he was scared to walk alone to school, he’ll continue attending it and “deal with child-lifters on his own” if ever confronted. “But I badly miss my friends Vivek, Ritesh and Neha. Their parents have asked them to stay home from some time,” he says.Kailash Makwana, Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence Wing, issued an advisory to district authorities on Sunday asking them to devise a plan to check the spread of rumours and involve local journalists in quelling the fear of suspected child-lifters among parents.