A Bangalore man who was hoping for a son was so angered by the birth of a girl child that he battered the three-month-old, who is now in a critical condition at a hospital, police say. Besides a severe head injury, the infant has bite marks on her body, doctors say. The baby, Afreen (also called Neha), is on life support after suffering brain haemorrhage, doctors attending to her at the government-run Vani Vilas Hospital in the city centre told reporters Monday.
Shocked at the incident, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Monday said the government needs to watch “every” baby girl in the country that is known for its male preference. This is the first such case reported in recent years in Bangalore. Afreen’s case comes close on the heels of battered baby Falak, who died late last month at the reputed All India Institute of Medical Sciences after battling for life for nearly two months.
Afreen’s father Umar Farook, 25, was arrested late Sunday on a complaint from his 19-year-old wife Reshma Bhanu, police said. Police said Reshma told them that Farook, who works in a shop in the busy Shivajinagar area of the city’s central business district, had been frequently torturing the baby to kill her as he wanted a son. Police said besides severe head injury, leading to haemorrhage, there were bite marks on several parts of the baby’s body. The baby is on ventilator and doctors said only after 48 hours of observation could they comment on her chances of recovery.
Farook, however, told a TV channel that he has not tortured the baby. Asked why then his wife was asserting that he had done so, he said in Hindi, “I don’t know.”Reshma and Farook were married in December 2010, police said. The incident came to light after doctors at the Vani Vilas Hospital informed the state Child Welfare Committee about the admission of a tortured baby. The committee in turn alerted police.
In New Delhi, Shanta Sinha, chairperson of NCPCR, described the incident as “shocking” and said an inquiry will be conducted. ”Really it’s shocking, alarming…the man has to be booked for attempting to murder the child,” Sinha said. “We will certainly call for an inquiry… but I think somewhere the government has to keep a watch on every girl born.” Referring to an incident in Rajasthan, where a newborn baby girl was abandoned by two couples fighting over a baby boy, Sinha said “…some are denying they had a girl…There is an all pervasive atmosphere that does not welcome a girl’s arrival”.
“We must acknowledge that a girl’s life is precarious and make sure every girl born is watched by some local designated authority”.