India: officials looking into infanticide by starvation

In Rajasthan, which borders Pakistan and is the largest state in India, locals have adopted new methods of killing baby girls. Traditionally, in some areas of India, male children are favored over females and thus inspire selective abortion on the basis of sex as well as infanticide. A report in the Times of India indicates that in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, members of some communities that are already well-known for killing baby girls have now found a new way to make the deaths appear natural.
The method of infanticide chosen involves allowing the babes to die of thirst or starvation, or through the denial of adequate care. Indian authorities discovered at least three such cases in Tejmalta and Mandi villages in the district during the last 10 days. On June 15, Dileep Singh was arrested and remanded to court custody for allegedly denying treatment to his infant daughter who was born on June 13. According to local police superintendent Mamta Vishnoi, a report had been submitted to the Sangad police station, bringing about the arrest and charges.

Superintendent Vishnoi said that investigators found that Singh allegedly did not make any effort to save his child following her birth. "During the investigation, contradictory information came to light pointing that Singh was completely careless toward his daughter. He was arrested Friday and sent to judicial custody on Saturday,'' she added.

In addition, over the last 10 days, three newborn girls in the area died under suspicious circumstances. According to media reports, for example, Keku Kanwar delivered a healthy baby on June 8 who was to a primary health center in serious condition on the next day. That baby did not survive. On that day, the death of another baby girl was reported. The baby;s family members are now at large.

A local government official, Shuchi Tyagi, confirmed that some people are deliberately resorting to inhuman methods to circumvent the law and prosecution. Tyagi said the cases of infanticide bear a resemblance to each other.  Of the three recent cases, the newborns were buried in the backyards of the family home. Chemicals were used to hasten the decomposition of the victims’ bodies.

"The reasons could not be found in the post-mortem. Therefore, the viscera has been sent to forensic science laboratory for investigation and after the report comes, the cause of death would be known. We are also talking to experts about what can be done to avoid such incidents,'' said Tyagi.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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