Bhavesh Jain, 29, a resident of Virar, had aimed to study and become independent, but the 'society' wouldn't let him! He was regularly harassed by classmates and the locals as his looks and verbal composition were different from others. He was different as he had 'down syndrome'.
Bhavesh now runs a 'raddi' (scrap shop) to support his family after his father Chandrakant,70, was bedridden with paralysis and old-age illnesses.
While at school, his classmates used him as a messenger boy—they would send chits with obscene messages scribbled on them through him to girls—and that would ultimately land him in trouble. And at times he would become the butt of classroom jokes after his classmates teased him, calling him 'Govinda', 'Salman Khan', etc.
"While a teenager, he was very fond of movies, and used to pretend he was 'Salman Khan' or 'Govinda'. Those days, rogue rickshaw drivers in the locality would pull him into their vehicle and make him perform shameful acts, all because he was immature though he had grown in age and size," said Chandrakala Jain, his mother.
"We wanted him to be like any other normal kid, and so admitted him to a normal school. Initially, there was no problem as he was keen on studying. But once the harassment became intolerable, we decided to pull him out of school. I then asked him to work with me at my 'raddi' shop, and now he manages it," said Chandrakant Jain.
"Due to lack of awareness, people with down syndrome are generally harassed. Even in a normal school, there should be trained special educators who would take care of such students. They are slow learners and there should be some mechanism in schools to protect them from harassment. The members of the family too should support them to achieve their aims," said Apurva Prabhawalkar, a clinical psychologist.