Little Naureen is the apple of her father's eye. It is over a year since Israr Ali Khan found the girl, then barely a day old, abandoned in a garbage dump and decided to adopt her. Like Naureen, nearly 100 infants were found abandoned across Uttar Pradesh in 2008.
Over 70 per cent of the abandoned infants were girls and the maximum number of cases was reported from state capital Lucknow.
"Twenty infants were found abandoned at various deserted spots in the city. Of them, 17 were girls," Anshumaali, of NGO Childline Uttar Pradesh, told IANS.
Childline runs a free helpline number (1098) in most of the major cities of the state.
Allahabad and Varanasi followed with eight cases each, while two to five cases each were reported from a majority of the state's big cities the same year.
The figures of abandoned babies has gone up considerably since previous years.
"In 2007, about 60 cases were reported from the state of which the maximum 11 was from the state capital," Varsha Sharma, a coordinator with Childline, said.
Such incidents are reported from smaller suburban cities and towns but largely go unnoticed due to lack of awareness, she added.
However, the NGOs and the administration feel that the lack of proper framework or policies hampers the rehabilitation of these infants.
"Generally, the abandoned infants are found either with injuries or ailing from various diseases. They are first rushed to the hospital for treatment and after that, they are presented before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)," Sharma said.
After the formalities, the infants are sent to the orphanage and their wait begins for someone to adopt them, she added.
The adoption process, according to the government orphanage, is too lengthy and complicated, discouraging those interested in adopting the children.
"Barely 15 to 20 per cent of the children get adopted due to this (cumbersome process). We have written a number of times to the CWC in the previous years and a few months ago about this. Now we see a ray of hope with the appreciable efforts started by them in this regard," an official of a state run orphanage on Faizabad road said, on condition of anonymity.
She cites the case of Israr Ali Khan, who found a barely day old girl abandoned in a garbage dump in December 2007.
"I got the girl, whom I named Naureen, treated at my expense and even the police had no objection when I informed them in writing that I am adopting the child," Khan, a clerk in the Indian Railways, said.
However, a week later he had to hand over the girl to the government orphanage and it took him nearly a year to finally get her back, he said.
"I kept visiting her daily along with my wife, and slowly she also developed an affection for us," Khan recalls.
Naureen, now over a year old, is with her new parents.
The police stress the need of strict laws for punishing those who abandon their children.
"It is practically not possible to trace the offenders. So we can only hand the infants over to some NGO," a senior police official told IANS.
"Some funds should also be allotted to us so that we can publish the photos of the child in newspapers requesting their parents to own up," the official added.