The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deserted baby death sparks row

Trouble erupted in Behala after a day-old baby girl, who was recovered from bushes on the bank of a lake late on Friday, died on Saturday morning.

A section of the residents of the Senhati slum, in the Behala police station area, claimed that the baby, barely alive, was taken to Vidyasagar Hospital for treatment on Friday evening, but was refused admission by doctors on emergency duty. The claim, however, was refuted by hospital superintendent Nishikanta Halder.

The local police have sent the baby’s body for a post-mortem to ascertain the exact reason behind her death. “We have not received any complaints against the hospital authorities, nor has anyone claimed to be the baby’s parent,” said officer in-charge of Behala police station Subhas Sen.

Police said Anita Mondol, a local slum-dweller, was returning home from work late on Friday when she heard a feeble cry from somewhere in the bushes near Senhati lake.

“It was very dark and I saw something moving in the shrubs. I later realised that it was a baby,” Anita, who was accompanied by her husband to the thana, told the police. She was not available for comment on Saturday night.

The childless couple was happy to find the girl. But the two soon realised that the baby was barely moving and was numb in the cold. “We wrapped her in a blanket and took her to hospital,” Anita told the police during interrogation.

Accompanied by local residents, they reached Vidyasagar Hospital. “No doctor could be found for a while. Later, someone, who claimed to be a doctor, told us to leave the place immediately. Left with no alternative, we decided to go home and call a quack to look after the child,” Anita told police. However, on Saturday morning, the baby died, claimed Mondol.

As soon as the news of the baby’s death spread, local youths rushed to the hospital protesting callousness on part of the hospital staff.

However, both the police and the hospital authorities dismissed the charges. “How can we ever refuse treatment to a child' This is absolutely false and the allegations are baseless,” the hospital superintendent said.

The police have registered a case based on the statements provided by doctors at the hospital. “So far, we have found nothing to substantiate Mondol’s claim. Nor was there any foul play. The baby was in a critical condition when the woman found her. No complaint has been registered against the hospital authorities by the woman or anyone else,” Sen said.

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