Leaving many scientists puzzled, a small village in Uttar Pradesh has made its mark for the surprisingly high number of twin births. And with problems of mistaken identity continuing within the village, Mohammadpur Umri near the Bamrauli Air Force base in Allahabad, with a population of about 700 people, has over 35 pairs of twin. While the global average of twin birth is 9-12 per 1000, at Umri the twin population is up to 60 per 1000 births.
However, the villagers stay clueless to explain the phenomenon. As reported by the Indian Express, one such twin brother was quoted saying, “Scientists came and collected our saliva and blood samples, soil and water samples too. They sampled the cattle because even bovines here tend to give birth to twins. But the scientists never got back. When they don’t know, how are we supposed to?”
Many from the neighboring villages take up the issue in a spiritual and superstitious perspective. While several villagers believe Umri is haunted by negative spirits, many also carry believe that the radiation from the nearest air base results in the splitting of the zygote. However, Umri residents ridicule any such claims and consider twins as blessings from the God.
Scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) of Hyderabad after visiting the village 15 years ago failed to complete their research due to unspecified causes. Indian Express quoted GR Chandak, the then group leader of the research by CCMB, saying, “We collected samples from Umri. We also conducted a sociological survey with the help of The Indian Society for Social Research. We had set out to study the genetic basis of the phenomenon of twinning. The village did not have electricity and other basic amenities, and its residents were resentful about no one coming to improve their living conditions. Many twins had married and left the village. Many had died at birth.”
Considered as one of the most backward villages in the state, Umri got access to electricity just a few years ago and schools in the village were also built at the same time. But the village still lacks pharmacy shops and hospitals, as the nearest hospital of the village is about five kilometers away.