Biswanath is an upazila in Sylhet which is the original home of a large number of expatriates, most of whom live in the UK.
The many palatial buildings with colourful gates and arches in front of the houses tells of the wealth of the residents of Biswanath. However, Amtoli village in Rampasha union is an exception.
There are only a handful of buildings in this large village, and even fewer tube-wells. Sanitary toilets are also a rarity.
The shocking thing about this village is that among the 5,500 villagers, it has about 400 people with disability - most of them are children and disabled from birth.
Among the 500 families who live here, at least one member of 90 percent of the families is differently abled. This includes people with either or both physical and mental disabilities.
However, the health directorate is unaware of the fact.
The Non Communicable Disease Control (NCDC) programme under the health ministry works for the disabled people.
Dr Mohammad Shahnewaz Parvez, deputy programme manager of the NCDC, told The Business Standard, "We did not receive any information about a village with 400 disable people."
We will look into the matter, he added.
The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) investigates the outbreak of diseases. But it does not work on disability. So, the IEDCR is unaware about 400 disabled people in a village.
When asked about the issue, an IEDCR official, in condition of anonymity, said that the IEDCR authority will look into the matter.
High prevalence of disabled people in a village appeared alarming to Dr Nehal Karim, a professor of Sociology at Dhaka University.
He told The Business Standard, "The issue is highly alarming. Certainly, there are something unusual in the village which is resulting in the birth of disabled children. If there is arsenic or other issues causing the disabled child birth, it needs prevention."
It is also necessary to conduct a research over the disability in that village, he added.
The district administration should inform the higher level of the government for rapid prevention measures, he opined.
Maulana Abul Khair of the village is the father of Rafi Miah (6) and Safi Miah (2), neither of whom can walk, move around or even talk since birth.
About his sons, Maulana Abul Khair said, "At the age when children learn to walk, they could not even sit up. They did not learn to speak at the age when other children learnt the skill. I have taken them for treatment to physicians both at Sylhet and at Dhaka, but to no avail."
Unlike Abul Khair, his fellow villager Abdul Matin does not have such a financial ability. His daughter Maushumi Begum, who turned 18 this year, has not been able to walk since birth. She has to be carried around.
Matin, who sells dried-fish, has a family of five – two sons, a daughter and a wife.
He said, "I find it hard to feed my family, so how can I afford to treat my daughter?"
Sources at the Biswanath Upazila Social Service Office said they carried out a door-to-door survey in the village in 2013 to list the number disabled people.
The parents or guardians of the disabled people then had to go to the Social Service office to register the names of their wards.
The sources added that based on the survey, there are 599 registered disable people in the union now, but some may have been left out of the list.
Mohammad Alamgir, the chairman of Rampasha Union Parishad (UP), said that there are about 400 disabled people in the village now, out of which 350 are children.
The UP chairman said, the disabled here are given physiotherapy in the union parishad office every month. About half of the disabled get a monthly government allowance.
Biswanath upazila health and family planning officer Dr Abdur Rahman Musa said, "This is a densely populated village. The environment is very unhealthy. Poverty, malnutrition and lack of awareness about maternal health and child health results in the birth of many children with disability."
"Some others become disabled because they suffer various diseases after birth. The birth rate is very high here," he added.
Dr Nafeesur Rahman also works for the disabled people. He told The Business Standard that people can be disabled for multifarious reasons.
"Malnutrition, early marriage, absence of pregnancy care, lack of iodine, high prevalence of arsenic, child delivery at home - are the key factors that may cause the birth of disabled children," said Dr Nafeesur.
A research is required to unveil the causes of disability in this village, he opined.
Dr Premananda Mondal, civil surgeon of Sylhet said, "Such a high number of disabled people in a single village is alarming. This might have been caused by malnutrition or iron deficiency."