Press Trust of india

‘Deaf and mute’ villagers enjoy first ever outing to snow carnival, courtesy Indian Army

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Bhaderwah:  In a first, the ‘deaf and mute’ residents of Dadhkai hamlet in Doda district ventured out of their mountainous village and took part in a snow carnival, thanks to the Indian Army.

The move comes days after the Army’s Rashtriya Rifles adopted the village to ensure a holistic development of the tribal population.

The hilltop tribal village, 105 km from Bhaderwah town, is home to 105 families. Of these, 55 families mysteriously have at least one person who can neither speak nor hear. There are 78 such people in the village, of which 41 are women and 30 children aged three to 15 years, according to the officials.

For the first time ever, 30 deaf and mute villagers travelled some 137 km away from their hamlet and enjoyed the snow carnival, the officials said.

The villagers took part in several activities, including snow sledging, skiing, tube slides, snow trekking and tug of war, they said.

Bhalessa Block Development Council chairman Mohammed Hanief, who is also a resident of Dadhkai and has three members in his family who can neither hear nor speak, said with this activity, the Army has proved that it has adopted the village in letter and spirit.

“It’s only the Army that thinks about the welfare of all sections of the society without any discrimination,” Dedarr, who was accompanying the villagers, said.

“To bring these special villagers to participate in a snow festival is an appreciable step by our Army, for which we will remain indebted to them,” Hanief said, adding the Army took up a cause that was neglected by all governments.

Overwhelmed by the outing, Reham Ali Khatana (45), a villager, expressed his gratitude to the Army through gestures and sign language.

A Rashtriya Rifles officer, who is the nodal officer of the event, said their visit to the carnival was the highlight of the three-day festival. “…Seeing their enthusiasm while participating in various activities made us proud,” he said.

The carnival was jointly organised by the Bhaderwah Development Authority, Rashtriya Rifles and Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering to boost tourism in the region, severely hampered by COVID-19.

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