Poverty-hit mother sells baby boy for R400
Sagar is not Manisha’s child, but she has been caring for him since he was 13 days old, when she and her husband, Ramesh, bought him for R400: the price his 28-year-old mother, wanted for her newborn. Debasish Panigrahi reports.india Updated: Sep 20, 2010 04:00 IST
Six-month-old Sagar clings tightly to Manisha Gavit (30), as she adds warm water to a spoon of milk powder. She raises the feeding bottle, which he grabs.
Sagar is not Manisha’s child, but she has been caring for him since he was 13 days old, when she and her husband, Ramesh, bought him for R400: the price his 28-year-old mother, wanted for her newborn.
"She was so skinny and starved. We gave her R400. She happily left the child with us,” said Manisha. “Sagar was all skin and bones, and villagers said he won’t survive, but he’s fine now.”
The Gavits live in Chondipada, a poverty-stricken tribal village in the Sahyadri range in Jawhar taluka, 150 km north of Mumbai and three hours’ drive from the city’s high-rises, malls, and multiplexes.
In 1993, 43 children died of illnesses brought on by malnutrition in Jawhar. Last month, 20 children, who were malnourished going by new World Health Organisation standards, died of various ailments — pneumonia was the main killer.
In the village, it’s no secret that the childless Gavits have bought a baby from a widow who lives in Aakre, 20 km away.
Ramchandra Navasu Baraph, a police patil (a villager who acts as the administrative contact) at Chondipada, confirmed the sale. “The widow is poor and wanted to get rid of the child. She had no source of income and the baby would have died of hunger with her. As we knew her and the village she belongs to, we didn’t object,” he said.
“It’s shocking. I will conduct an inquiry to confirm the facts,” said Vijay Joshi, deputy collector, Thane (rural), when he heard about the sale of the baby, which took place around 15 km away from his office at Jawhar. “If it is true, I will see to it that the mother and the child are taken care of.”
The Jawhar taluka has a population of around 1.27 lakh, 90 per cent of whom are tribals.