In yet another poverty-driven child sale case in Odisha, a poor couple was forced to sell off their newborn girl as they were unable to foot the bill of a private hospital at Kendrapara where the baby was born.
Nirakar Moharana (34) and his wife Gitarani Moharana (30) had gone to district headquarters hospital in Kendrapara on Monday for delivery of their third child. They were advised by the doctors and the village ASHA worker Anapurna Moharana to go to a private hospital as there were some complicacies in the pregnancy.
Gitanjali delivered a girl child in the private nursing home on Thursday. After the delivery, the hospital asked the couple, belonging to Righagada village under Rajnagar block of the district, to pay Rs. 7,500. Due to acute poverty, they expressed their inability to arrange the money. Instead, they agreed to sell the newborn daughter to a childless couple in exchange of Rs. 12,000.
I had thought the treatment would be free at the private nursing home like it was in government hospital. But, I was asked to clear a bill of Rs. 7,500. I had with me less than Rs.1,000 at that time. The hospital authorities said they would not let me go till the bill is paid. Finding no other alternative, I gave in to their offer despite reluctance of my wifeMoharana, Father of the newborn
When the couple told the villagers about the incident, they were advised to approach the police. Nirankar and Gitarani then filed an FIR against the nursing home and the person who purchased the newborn girl at Kendrapara Town police station on Friday. “After the FIR was filed, we have registered a case under Section 372 (sale of minor child for unlawful and immoral purpose) and 81, Juvenile Justice Act. Further investigation is going on,” said Kendrapara SP Dayanidhi Gochayat.
When contacted, ASHA worker Anapurna, however, said, “The couple has two daughters. After the birth of their third daughter, they decided to abandon the child in the nursing home. But I resisted it. Later, a childless couple took the newborn by paying some money.”
“The village ASHA worker misguided me in taking us to the private nursing home. The incident deeply hurt my conscience. I went to the police so that those involved in the child-sale racket are arrested,” Moharana told NDTV.
A case was registered under IPC Section 372 (selling minors for unlawful and immoral purpose) and provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. “The couple who allegedly bought the infant has been identified. Our primary objective now is to rescue the child after which penal action would be initiated against the other culprits,” Police Bishi said.
The incident lays bare the dismal state of implementation of Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a safe motherhood intervention under the National Rural Health Mission (NHM), which aims at reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among poor pregnant women. Under the JSY, a pregnant woman is entitled to delivery, Caesarean section, medicines and dietary supplements at any health institution free of cost.