The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clinic in baby ‘sale’

Guwahati, Jan. 10: A nursing home in Guwahati has allegedly sold off a newborn girl whose mother could not pay the delivery bills.

Based on an FIR filed by Monika Pegu-Singh yesterday, police raided the Guwahati Maternity Home in Ulubari today and rounded up six members of the staff for interrogation. Members of the area’s Nagarik Samiti and the city unit of the Youth Congress also laid siege to the nursing home, demanding that the newborn be handed back to her mother immediately.

Monika gave birth to her daughter — a healthy 3-kg baby — at 2.35 pm on January 2 and was told the next day that she was fit for discharge. But there was a problem: she did not have the Rs 3,000 charged by the nursing home for its services and her bus driver husband was nowhere to be seen.

According to the case diary at Paltan Bazar police station, the nursing home “detained” Monika for two more days before finally letting her go on January 5, but minus her daughter. The baby, she was told, would remain in the nursing home as “collateral” till such time that she returned with money to clear the bills.

Narrating her story to the media, a teary-eyed Monika said she was a resident of Gogamukh, in Dhemaji district, married to Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) bus driver Sankar Singh. She came to the city on the morning of January 2 to look for her “missing” husband.

Her labour pains started as soon as she reached Ulubari, where an ASTC workshop and a ticket counter are located. When she cried out for help, a few persons rushed out of a nearby pharmacy and took her to the nursing home.

“I was thankful when I found myself in the nursing home, little knowing what would follow,” she recalled.

Monika said she was evicted from Guwahati Maternity Home around 6 am on January 5. “That was the last time I saw my baby. Before leaving, I breast-fed her...I told Nirmalda, Kutumoni baidew (hospital staff) to take care of my child till I returned with the money.”

Turned out of the nursing home, Monika was crying on a footpath in Ulubari when tea vendor Manju Dey came to her aid.

Manju said: “I collected around Rs 1,300 in two days and went to the hospital along with Monika to get her baby. We were turned away rudely.”

Manju’s husband approached the Nagarik Samiti, who advised him to ask Monika to file an FIR with the police.

Investigating officer K. Mandal said the case was registered under Sections 343 and 34 for “wrongful confinement”. “If the baby is not found, another section, pertaining to kidnapping, may be added to the case,” he said.

One of the nursing home employees, Nirmal Das, is absconding and the management has not been able to give the police his complete address.

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