Image for representation.(Representational Photo/Shutterstock)
Image for representation.(Representational Photo/Shutterstock)

Odisha tribal couple insists on not giving abandoned baby girl back to state

  • Inspector of Morada police station, Kuni Besra said on Sunday, she had sent a platoon of police to rescue the baby girl from the couple.
By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON FEB 09, 2021 12:09 AM IST

A tribal couple in Odisha's Mayurbhanj district, who found an abandoned baby girl near their village and brought her home, has become a headache for the district officials who are at their wit's end trying to persuade them to hand over the baby.

On Sunday, the Santhali tribal couple even gave a platoon of policemen a slip as the cops raided the village to rescue the baby girl.

China Hembram (42), a mason of Bhalukachua village under Chikitamatia gram panchayat of Morada block in Mayurbhanj district, found the newborn girl lying abandoned in nearby Phulajhari forest on August 16, 2020. China and his wife Maina (32) had two sons - 5-year-old and 2-year-old- from their marriage and pined for a girl child. China's wife was overjoyed when he brought the baby home.

However, when the local ASHA and Anganwadi workers got to know about the incident on September 2, they asked them to hand over the child before the Child Welfare Committee as per the procedure.

"When our ASHA and Anganwadi workers met the couple they said the did not have a girl child and thus have adopted her. But we told them to hand over the baby to us and then apply for adoption as per the Adoption Regulations 2017. She, however, was unwilling to be persuaded and said she will keep her come what may," said Mita Nayak, child development project officer of Morada block.

Nayak said since September 2, the Anganwadi workers, ICDS supervisor as well as ASHA workers of the area made several visits to the couple's home trying to reason with them about the necessity to follow the adoption procedures. "As the couple don't have the financial resources and already have two children, we reasoned with them to not insist on keeping the girl. We told them that the child needs better resources to grow up to be a healthy child. The woman just kept on saying 'I won't give'," said Nayak.

District child protection officer of Mayurbhanj, Mamatamayee Biswal said the couple was being instigated by other tribal people of the village. "They seem to be under some sort of a misconception that by keeping the baby girl, the couple would get some help from the government. The child has low body weight and needs vaccination. We are not sure of what kind of vaccination she has been given. The villagers are regularly misbehaving with our staff whenever we go to persuade the couple," said Biswal.

Inspector of Morada police station, Kuni Besra said on Sunday, she had sent a platoon of police to rescue the baby girl from the couple. "But by the time our team could reach the village, the couple had fled home with their sons. However, I have managed to send a message to China Hembram to handover the baby girl tomorrow. We will wait for the couple," she said.

Officials in charge of the adoption of children in Odisha said it takes a little more than two years for a child to be adopted. "The parents who wish to adopt a child are required to register online with the Central Adoption Resources Agency and upload the necessary documents. Once the registration is done, the parent can select a Specialised Adoption Agency for a home study that confirms the suitability of the parents for adopting a child. After they are found eligible and suitable, they are given referrals of children who are legally free for adoption," said Priyadarshi Das, programme manager of State Adoption Resource Agency.

Between 2016 and 2020, there have been 775 adoptions in Odisha.

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