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Mother held for baby death

A woman was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly killing her 10-month-old son, who was found dead in a bathtub in the family’s apartment at Mankundu, Hooghly, last week.

Police said Sunanda Chowdhury had claimed that robbers broke into the house while she was asleep. She has now admitted to have cooked up the story in panic, the cops added.

Sources said Sunanda told the police that her son, Arya, died of accidental suffocation when she fell asleep while breastfeeding. When she woke up, the baby was allegedly lying lifeless with its head buried under a pillow.

Sunanda’s husband Anjan, an engineer with Eastern Railway, was at work and her mother-in-law Tripti had stepped out of the house when the incident occurred.

The woman told the police that she had stayed up till late the night before because of Jagaddhatri Puja immersion and had dozed off while feeding the baby.

“The woman said she tried to revive the baby by giving him a massage. When it did not work, she switched on the geyser and gave her son a hot and cold bath. On realising that the baby had died, she panicked and cooked up the story of a burglary,” a police officer said.

Initially, Sunanda told the police that robbers had climbed into the third-floor flat from a gap in the balcony grille and pressed a pillow to her face, rendering her unconscious. She had claimed that the intruders snatched the baby from her and took him to an adjacent room when he started crying in fear.

The family had lodged a police complaint on November 14, alleging robbery of 110 grams of gold jewellery worth Rs 3 lakh and Rs 10,000.

Sunanda’s mother-in-law, Tripti, had told the police that she returned home and rang the doorbell, but there was no response. The 65-year-old called the guards and neighbours and managed to force open the door, which was bolted from inside, to find Sunanda lying apparently unconscious and Arya’s body floating in a bathtub full of water.

The door being bolted from inside made the police suspicious. “The investigating officers had doubts about Sunanda’s statement. She was taken to the police station on Monday night and interrogated. When we cross-questioned her, the woman broke down and said she was scared how her in-laws would react if she told them the truth and so made up the robbery,” said Sunil Chowdhury, the superintendent of police, Hooghly.

Two days after the incident, the police recovered some of Sunanda’s jewellery from a field with tall grass near the window of her apartment.

“During interrogation, Sunanda admitted to have thrown the jewellery out and ransacked the flat herself to lend credence to her story,” Chowdhury said.

Sunanda was arrested on Tuesday morning and produced in Chandernagore ACJM court, where she was remanded in police custody for three days.

She was charged with Section 302 under the Indian Penal Code.