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Patient suspect in baby theft

Patna, Jan. 4: Police suspect the hand of someone admitted to the maternity ward of Patna Medical College and Hospital in the disappearance of an infant on December 31.

Four days after the incident, there has been no breakthrough. But, sources said, the family of a woman who was to be discharged from hospital today has been stopped, without their knowledge, on the request of the police.

“The police suspect a woman, presently admitted to the same ward. She was to be released today but on the request of the police, she has been detained on the pretext of more medication. Nothing more can be said as it can hamper probe,” a source at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) told The Telegraph today.

The mother of the male infant who disappeared arrived in Dumaini village of Samastipur district late on Monday. “Pinky Devi was brought to PMCH around 11.30pm. She delivered the baby around 2.30am on Tuesday. Around 5.30pm on December 31, Pinky had to go to the washroom. Her mother, Panmati Devi, asked a dark-complexioned slim woman to hold the baby for a while, saying she had to accompany Pinky to the washroom. When they returned around 6pm the woman and the child had vanished. CCTV footage shows the woman walking out of the ward with the infant hidden under her white shawl. How could they trust a woman they had known only since morning?” a police officer said.

Another police officer said: “The family comes from a rural area where people tend to trust anybody they talk to. The woman who went missing must be a professional. She must have struck a conversation posing as another patient’s attendant and gained their trust. All this hints to the presence of a baby-lifting gang. The role of someone working at the hospital cannot be ruled out either. The PMCH administration needs to take the blame as security is their duty.”

Another infant was similarly stolen from PMCH last May. “The police had arrested three persons of a family and it had emerged that someone called Meena was paid to steal the baby from the ward. However, Meena is still to be caught,” the officer said.