21 October, 2020

The Duplex Village

There are 40 identical twins in an 800-strong hamlet in Uttar Pradesh. Scientists are trying to find out why.

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Duplex Village
A few kilometres outside Allahabad, close to the Bamrauli Air Force Station, is Umri. A dusty hamlet with a population of 800, it is a typical nondescript UP village. But of late Umri has been having a stream of curious visitors—mostly scientists—who are studying the unusually large number of identical twins in the village. Umri has 40 of them which is said to be a world record.

Says Dr Lalji Singh, a renowned DNA expert and director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad: "The frequency of twin birth here is almost thrice that of a village in Scandinavia, which had the maximum of such cases in the world several years back," he says.

A CCMB team along with Singh has already visited Umri. The villagers are confused at all the brouhaha. "There must be something really special about us that our blood has been taken for investigation," says Kaiser Ali. Rehana Khatoon questions naively, "Kya yeh sab ke baad hamaren bachchon ko sarkari naukri lag jayegee? (After all these blood tests, will some of our children be given government...


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