| All's Not well: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has his ears cocked to health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra at the Doctors' Day programme. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Krishnagar, July 1: A man keen to adopt a newborn abandoned by his mother in a nursing home here was told to get his wife admitted so that it appeared she had delivered the baby when she walked out.
Manotosh Chakraborty, who has a catering business, and his wife were also told to cough up Rs 15,000 for the boy.
The childless couple did neither and instead filed a complaint against the nursing home with subdivisional officer Ajay Sannamat.
Chakraborty said he came to know from local people that a newborn had been abandoned in the nursing home by an unwed mother and approached it yesterday seeking to adopt the baby.
'But to escape the legalities of adoption, they (the nursing home authorities) asked me to get my wife admitted for a couple of days and then walk off with the child as genuine parents,' Chakraborty said in his complaint.
'I was furious at the proposition,' he said later today.
Immediately after receiving the complaint, Sannamat asked police to begin a probe. He also officially took custody of the child on behalf of the administration and appointed a government doctor to look after the baby.
'The allegations levelled against the nursing home are grave. The man (Chakraborty) accused the nursing home authorities of demanding Rs 15,000 from him for the baby. I have asked the police to inquire into whether it is involved in a baby-selling racket,' Sannamat said.
The nursing home owner, Sabyasachi Saha, denied the allegations. 'We did not try to sell the baby. It is true that we had not informed the police as we were waiting for his mother to return,' he said.
According to the police, a 17-year-old girl ' she had claimed to be Sonali Khatun of Nakashipara ' took admission in the nursing home on June 24 for childbirth. She gave birth to the boy the next day and apparently disappeared the day after.
That the nursing home did not lodge a complaint with the police after that has fuelled suspicion in the administration about the baby-selling racket.
It also took little initiative to trace the girl at her Nakashipara address.
'I have asked the police to trace Sonali Khatun, verify her address and the events leading to her admission to the nursing home and her disappearance,' said the subdivisional officer.
Nadia additional superintendent of police Biswarup Ghosh said the investigation has started. 'We are finding out whether the nursing home was out to sell the baby and if there was such a racket in operation.'
Lack of awareness about adoption procedures and rules, even among officials, often makes the process complicated. Last month, the government organised a seminar to increase awareness among the personnel concerned in the social welfare department.
Ghosh said the baby would be handed over to a couple following the rules of adoption.
The role of the nursing home, the police officer said, was 'questionable' as it failed to inform the police about the disappearance of the real mother in five days. 'All doctors attached to this nursing home will be questioned.'