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Unable to pay hospital bill, parents sell off newborn for Rs. 7,500 in Odisha

Unable to pay hospital bill, parents sell off newborn for Rs. 7,500 in Odisha

KENDRAPARA (ODISHA): A newborn girl was allegedly sold off by her parents for Rs. 7,500 as they needed the amount to settle their hospital bill. The newborn was sold off to a childless couple in Kendrapara district of Odisha. However, the father has accused a nursing home of persuading him into selling the child.

Nirakar Moharana, the baby’s father, lodged an FIR today stating the Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHA workers of his village was instrumental in taking them to a private nursing home which suggested him to sell the baby, to settle the bills.

However, the nursing home refused to comment.

Mr Moharana and his wife Ms Gitanjali, residents of Righagada village under Rajnagar tehsil, had been to the district headquarters hospital on July 30 in Kendrapara for the delivery of their third child.

The ASHA worker who accompanied them to the hospital had later persuaded them to shift to the nursing home for better facilities. On August 1, Gitanjali delivered a girl, said Mr Moharana, a daily wage earner, in the FIR.

“I had thought the treatment would be free at the private nursing home like it was in government hospital. But, I was asked to clear a bill of Rs. 7,500. I had with me less than Rs. 1,000 at that time. The hospital authorities said they would not let me go till the bill is paid,” he said.

“Finding no other alternative, I gave in to their offer despite reluctance of my wife,” Mr Moharana added.

They then sold the newborn to a couple through a network of middlemen arranged by the nursing home, said the FIR.

“The village ASHA worker misguided me in taking us to the private nursing home. The incident deeply hurt my conscience. I went to the police so that those involved in the child-sale racket are arrested,” Mr Moharana said.

Kendrapara police station inspector Bijoy Kumar Bishi said a case was registered under IPC Section 372 (selling minors for unlawful and immoral purpose) and provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

“The couple who allegedly bought the infant has been identified. Our primary objective now is to rescue the child after which penal action would be initiated against the other culprits,” Mr Bishi said.