By Sadaket Malik : Despite the repeated assurances of total rehabilitation of a Deaf and Dumb village in Bhalessa area of Doda, The affected people continue to suffer from rehabilitation facilities like education, health care and special schooling.
A remote village in Bhalessa, Doda seems reverberation with the sounds of silence and government has turned nelson’s eye towards the nomadic deaf and dumb populace. There are 340 families, which have over 95 members who cannot speak or hear.
Fed up with the of the successive governments as well as of the rehabilitation organizations, people of this village pinned their hopes on the two youth of their village, who after getting special training from National Institute of Mental Handicapped, returned to their native place to change the lives of the residents of this mountainous hamlet.
Jan Mohammad and Ali Mohammad, who completed their training in June this year, have opened a school for the rehabilitation of this affected populace. With the help of an NGO, both were selected by the Army and sent to Hyderabad for a special training to become instructor for deaf and dumb.
In the school, both instructors imparted special education to the deaf and dumb but the expected result is absurdly poor as the children were not even in a position to grasp the skills or whatsoever the object of was. The area need special school as envisaged by the agencies likes Rehabilitation Coulcil of India (RCI).
The Rehabilitation Council of India itself is acting as a silent spectator on the Total rehabilitation of this deaf and dumb populace residing here. Neither the RCI nor any national Institute has visited the site to conduct even a single preliminary survey of the village.
The children continue to suffer and add three or more children to the exiting numbers every year.
The village first reported 36 deaf and dumb cases in 1986, and two decades later, the village has neither a school for the deaf and dumb nor other facilities that can make life easier for them.
On an average, three children are born with such disability every year in this village. The villagers mostly belong to the Gujjar community and the researchers believe the disorder could be due to marriages within the family.
The ever increasing number of deaf and dumb has reached to 92 as some more cases were detected among newborn children during the past two months.
“We hope that they will bring some changes,” Jan Mohammed a local villager said. He said: “Except promises nothing concrete has been done by the authorities so far to solve our problem.”
Though some efforts were taken by the government to ascertain cause of this congenital defect, nothing concrete has been done so far. Three years ago, a team of scientists and doctors came from AIIMS, New Delhi, to study this village’s case, but no conclusive findings have been made public yet.
Earlier, The Health Department had conducted a survey through which it found 90 such cases in the village. Subsequently, the matter was taken up with the additional professor of genetic unit of paediatrics in AIIMS, Dr Madhulika Kabra, who in turn conducted a genetic study on blood samples of the villagers. The doctor said there was no curative treatment. However, she opined that future generations could be saved provided villagers avoid getting married within close relations.
However, the youth trained by the Hyderabad institute are doing a commendable job at their level to rekindle the hope of the populace but there is a need to set up some foreign and language special personals specialized in the area pf special education.
The government neither has any remorse nor any plans up its sleeves to cure the village of deaf and dumb people, except for extending cooperation to an AIIMS medico for carrying out further studies.
“Despite repeatedly raising the issue in the lower House, none from the government has visited the village,The government is simply not bothered about the problem and poor villagers continue to live in shambles.The village is located in the home town of Union health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s but he too has turned a blind eye towards these villagers.
Not only the government sponsored so called rehabilitation agencies failed in providing medication but failed absurdly in imbibing basic language skills viz a viz Special education to the affected children of deaf and dumb Dhadkhai village of Bhalessa in Doda.
What is needed is special schooling through the special education programme initiated by the central government through its autonomous bodies like Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) Composite Regional Centres, The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Health Ministry, and other institutes of national importance in so that they may seem on the mainstream of the society.
(Sadaket Malik is Columnist based in Bhalessa at Jammu and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)