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A tribal family was ostracised as villagers believed fits was infectious

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August 2015

An innocuous ailment like fits became a bane for a tribal family in Hankya Tanda, a remote hamlet in Telangana’s Nalgonda district.

Driven by superstition, the residents of the hamlet have ostracised a family of four as the head of the family Ramavath Jaggu Nayak (50) and his seven-year-old deaf and dumb son were suffering from fits.

Believing that fits is an infectious disease, none in the hamlet used to allow the family members into their house. They even refused to allow their children to sit along Devoji, son of Nayak, in the school. Nayak’s wife, Dhwali (45), being mentally sick added to the family’s woes.

Consequently, when Nayak died of 10 days ago, most of the residents of the Tanda did not take part in his funeral. Only his kin, in a very few numbers, visited the house to see his body.

What had upset Nayak’s family members the most was that none came forward to carry the body to the burial ground even though they had managed to find workers for digging the pit. The deceased’s brother Gopiya and sister, Mudavath Salamma, tried to hire a tractor to take the body to the graveyard, but to no avail.

Coming to know about the incident, Mandal Parishad Development Officer (MPDO) K.Narasimhulu and Mandal Revenue Officer Praveen Nayak visited the hamlet on Thursday last to enquire about the issue and met Dhwali, Devoji and their kin.

The officials have found that a house was sanctioned in the name of Dhwali and also she had also issued an Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) card, under which the family was eligible for 35 kg rice every month. However, both the measures did not benefit Naik’s family.

On receiving a grant of Rs 65,000 under housing scheme, Gopiya constructed a four-room pucca house adding some additional amount from his pocket and drove his elder brother’s family out of the house. He constructed a one room semi-pucca house on the outskirts of hamlet and shifted Nayak’s family into it.

The ration dealer at the village kept the AAY card with her. Though Dhwali and Devoji were eligible for pension of Rs.1,500 a month, they were not issued any pension cards.

Speaking to The Hindu, the MPDO said that they have decided to issue pension cards immediately to both of them. A decision was also taken to admit the boy in a deaf and dumb school with the help of Mahitha, a NGO which also donated Rs. 4,000 to the family as immediate relief measure.

Meanwhile, the officials applied for Rs. 10,000 cash benefit under national family benefit scheme and opened a bank account to deposit the amount. They have asked Gopiya to give two of four rooms to Dhwali since the house was actually sanctioned in her name.

Dhwali also has a 10-year-old girl Ammulu who is studying third standard in a tribal Ashram school at Teldeverapally village.

Credit: The Hindu

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