A mother of four in Jharkhand’s tribal-dominated East Singhbhum district sold her fifth infant to a childless couple for Rs 2,000, sources said on Thursday, the second such incident in three days.
Chintamani Hembrom sold her fifth child barely eight hours after he was born at the state-run community health centre (CHC) to a couple from nearby Jamshedpur.
The couple claimed the infant was adopted but the doctors and local administration forced them to return the child. At the time of filing of this report, the biological mother and the foster mother had been summoned to the CHC for further action.
Devi Kumari Toppo, the woman who had ‘bought’ the child, said she took the infant for adoption after the biological mother expressed her inability to raise the baby for various reasons.
Toppo said she has already registered with the concerned department for the child’s adoption. “I gave money (Rs 2000) to Chintamani for distribution of sweets as she was very poor,” she said.
But Dr Suresh Chandra Mahato, the CHC in-charge, declared the entire process illegal. As neither the hospital nor any administrative authority was aware of the so-called adoption, the Toppo family cannot keep the child, he added.
“Since the child exchanged hands in the health center premises, it is my duty to get him back to the biological mother. Thankfully, the Toppo family has agreed to return the child else we could have sought police help,” Dr Mahato said.
“Once the child is home with his mother, the Toppo family can apply for adoption in an official and much legal manner.”
Chintamani said she was forced to sell the child as she struggles to make ends meet with four young children and an alcoholic husband. “Left to fend for myself and my children, a fifth child is an extra burden. Worse, with him, I could not have gone to work. Hence, I gave him to a couple who can raise him well,” she said.
She insisted that once she gets the child back, she will help the Toppo family initiate adoption process legally.
Block development officer Girija Shankar Mahato said he got to know about the case through media friends. “I am looking into the case,” he said.
On Tuesday, an impoverished woman in Ramgarh sold her three-day-old son for Rs 2000 to a businessman after local customs took a huge financial toll on her.