For generations, a village in Jharkhand has produced people who are hard of hearing. But the authorities have hardly lent an ear to their plight.
The problem has mysteriously persisted for decades in the Muslim-dominated Jhumarvad village of Deogarh district, about 350 km from here.
Shamshool Mia, a 62-year-old villager, said: "I am hard of hearing since birth. I consulted local doctors but their treatment failed to cure me. I will have to suffer it till I die."
Shakeel Ahmad, another resident, said: "I have three sons and two of them are hard of hearing. We are unable to understand why the people of this village face a hearing problem."
"Even treatment makes no impact on us," he said. Ahmad pointed out that there was hardly a house in the village without at least one hearing impaired.
The problem has refused to go away.
"My grandfather had a similar problem too. While my father was spared, I and my daughter have the same ailment," said Aabid Ansari, another resident of the village.
In the village's primary school, there are 110 students, of whom 40 face the same problem.
"It is indeed a difficult task to ensure that each student hears me properly. I have to speak loudly in the classroom," said a teacher.
Doctors are somewhat baffled.
Manish Kumar, an ENT specialist, said: "The disease might have resulted from some food habit or absence of the hearing vein. It can also be a reaction to medicines or injury in the ear. But the exact reason can be known only after investigating the villagers and studying their medical history."
When Jharkhand Health Minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi's attention was drawn towards the problem, he said: "I came to know about the plight of the villagers just two days ago.
"I have asked the district administration to go to the village with doctors and investigate. If need be, we will send specialised doctors from Ranchi for treatment of the villagers."