It was an emotional end to a baby-swapping case in Shimla. The pangs of separation from an infant they nursed for five months and the joy of being reunited with their child left two pairs of parents overwhelmed.
Earlier this summer, on May 26, two mothers delivered in a city hospital, but were handed over a wrong baby. The families went on to groom the child — till Wednesday, when they exchanged the babies to get the right one.
“Today, I don’t know if I have won or lost,” said Anil Thakur, the father of the baby boy in the episode marked by judicial intervention. He struggled since the child’s birth on May 26 to prove that his son had been swapped with a baby girl — at the Government Kamla Nehru Hospital.
“Anmol (the baby girl) has now gone back to her family; my son is home. But I’m already missing her,” says Anil, a school teacher, fighting back tears. “I fought for this, but I haven’t been able to eat well now.”
His wife, Sheetal, who is a nurse at Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital here, was also torn between agony and ecstasy, as the other couple arrived at the house. Anjana and Jitender Thakur, the parents of the baby girl, paid their visit to hand over Anmol and take back their son.
“It is a very difficult moment for me,” said Sheetal, who also has a four-year-old daughter. “I am a mother. I know her so well.”
Anjana, along with Jitender who is a transporter, organised a havan ceremony to bless the children. The woman broke down as she handed over the boy she named Nityansh to his mother. “I have a six-year-old son and always yearned for a daughter but today, this is heartbreaking,” she said as journalists watched the exchange.
The couples renamed the boy Shivaay and the girl Jannat.
The police termed the swapping an “isolated and accidental case”. They said a staff nurse, Pushpa Devi of Shimla, and a midwife, Rupa Devi from Haryana’s Panchkula off Chandigarh, were arrested on Tuesday.
On the night of May 26, Sheetal says, the staff in the delivery room at the government-run Hospital congratulated her on giving birth to a son, but later the mother was handed over a baby girl. She and her husband got suspicious and informed the hospital authorities, who denied any swapping.
This led the couple of lodge a police complaint. A DNA test established that they were not the biological parents of the girl.
At this, Anil and Sheetal moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court. On August 31, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sandeep Sharma, issued a notice to the health secretary and state police chief besides the Shimla superintendent of police, seeking a reply in two weeks.
The police conducted a DNA profiling of both the couples and informed the court that Anjana and Jitender were biological parents of the girl, while Sheetal and Anil were parents of the boy. The court suggested the couples reach a settlement and fixed October 26 as the date to exchange the babies.