In a city whose population is full to the brim and overflowing, stealing babies would be the last thing on anyone’s mind. But, yes, in Mumbai, newborn babies, specially male, are in demand, and stealing them has become a business for some, who offer them to childless couples as a convenient option.
The kidnapping of a newborn from Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital last month, was the ninth such case in Mumbai in 10 years, and the fourth in four years.
A senior gynaecologist at a government hospital says childless couples seeking to adopt a child, choose short cuts instead of the long legal route. This also benefits those couples who might want people to believe that they are the biological parents. Adoption statistics indicate that an increasing number of couples are coming forward to adopt children. But the process takes about a year and a half.
Officials say that there is also a gap between the demand for newborns for adoption and availability, which makes kidnapping a lucrative business. This only enhances the argument for better security measures at maternity hospitals. The matter received attention when Mohan Nerurkar’s four-day-old boy was kidnapped from Sion hospital in January 2009 and he dragged the municipal corporation to court.
It was then that the Bombay High Court worked out security guidelines for hospitals. But it has been found that Wadia hospital ignored the guidelines. The hospital management apparently regarded this as unimportant and an avoidable waste of staff, till the kidnap incident. Now they have posted more guards on the premises.
In the meanwhile, the kidnapped newborn’s mother, Jasmine Naik, continues to stay put in the ward at Wadia, hoping that her baby will be returned to her soon. “Please tell people to look for a ‘Y’ mark on the chin. I know that a newborn undergoes a lot of changes and it will be difficult to identify the baby with the photo,” she says. She won’t give up.