Poverty and fear of social stigma forced a middle-aged couple of Badla village in the district to 'donate' their newborn twins to two families.
When the accredited social health activists (ASHA) and the parties involved were confronted on the issue about the alleged pay-off in the deal, the health authorities asked the recipient families to return the babies to their parents, but the latter refused to accept them.
Reports said Rano Devi, in her late forties, gave birth to male twins at the Dasuya civil hospital on Friday. Due to postpartum hemorrhage, she was referred to Hoshiarpur. In the meantime, her husband Teja Singh gave away the infants to two 'needy' families— one a childless couple in their acquaintance and the other who had three daughters.
When asked, Teja Singh first feigned ignorance about the whereabouts of his newborn sons, saying that the hospital staff was to bring them from Dasuya but did not. Later, when there was talk of alleged sale of the newborns through an ASHA worker, he conceded to having willingly handed over the babies to the two families.
"I and my wife did not need the babies as we already have a son and two daughters, one of whom is married. I am a daily wager and do not have the means to raise them," said Teja Singh.
He said he was also worried about his family's reaction. Asked why they did not go for a termination, he said they came to know about the pregnancy after about six months.
"My wife had undergone tubectomy many years ago and we were not expecting her to get pregnant," he added.
One of recipient families claimed that Teja was going to throw away the infants. "He was going to dispose of the babies. My daughter-in-law delivered a girl child for the third time in a row at the same hospital on Friday, we requested him to give one of the babies to us. We promised to pay for the treatment of his wife," said the woman.
The other recipient said she could not bear a child even after eight years of her marriage and was happy to adopt one. Both denied having paid anything to the 'donor couple'.
Dr Naresh Kansra, senior medical officer at Dasuya hospital, said the department had nothing to do with the will of the parents.
"After the delivery, we handed over the newborns to the parents. Our responsibility ends there," he said. Teja Singh said he would not take back the infants and was willing to go through legal formalities, if any. His wife also expressed her willingness to give away the twins.