| Soneca with the newborn at the Ratua health centre. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Feb. 22: A partially buried newborn was rescued yesterday from a field of corn, 55 km from here.
The faint cries of the baby had alerted Sahanur Alam, the karmadhakshya of Ratua block I, who along with a group of men was walking past the Manipur village just after sunset.
A few strides in the direction of the cries revealed a newborn buried to the neck in the middle of the standing stalks of corn. The men brushed aside the loose dirt on the baby’s face before rushing her to the Ratua police station.
From there, the baby was sent to the Ratua health centre, where she was attended by the block medical officer of health (BMOH), Somnath Mondol.
“She was born not more than six to seven hours before she was found. We would have lost her had the rescuers been a bit late,” Mondal said.
“The baby survived because the soil around the baby was loosely packed. She could have been the fruit of an illicit relationship, or was discarded because she is a girl child,” said Alam.
He said generally after sunset wild animals like fox raid the fields. “It was a miracle that we found her,” said Alam.
As the news spread, there was a flurry of activity in the area centering the baby. Block development officer Lakshman Haldar, the BMOH, the police and Alam joined the search for a wet nurse. After a hunt for several hours, they found Soneca Rabidas, who has a year-old daughter, and who agreed to nurse the newborn.
Both Soneca, whose own daughter is in Manipur village, and the baby, were shifted to Malda district hospital after the latter’s condition deteriorated this evening.
“The baby was exposed to the elements for a long time. If need be, we might have to refer her to a Calcutta hospital,” said one of the doctors attending to the newborn.
Earlier in the day, however, there was a lot of confusion as to where the baby should be kept. Haldar first contacted the subdivisional officer of Chanchole, Debashis Sarkar, who in turn consulted the subdivisional officer (headquarters) Arunima Dey. Finally, it was decided that the newborn would be kept at the Ratua health centre. Later, she would be sent to a government home in Behrampore. However, since she has been shifted to the district hospital now, the baby will stay there for sometime.
The police, however, are clueless about who had actually tried to abandon and kill the child. “An attempt to murder case has been started and we are interrogating the villagers,” said police superintendent Dilip Mondol.
“We have arranged for some financial assistance for Soneca on behalf of the panchayat because she had readily agreed to nurse the child. Her own daughter is only a year old and she has left her behind in Manipur, ” Alam said.