Girl child’s life worth Rs 2,000 in Maharashtra’s Beed district?

, TNN | Jun 6, 2012

MUMBAI: Beed district in Maharashtra has grown infamous after the alleged abortion of five female fetuses came to light recently. In an indication of the sad state of affairs, TOI has found that the life of a girl child could be worth merely Rs 2,000. More shockingly, these practices could have been curbed at least two years ago with activists saying they had informed state health officials about the goings-on.

A sting operation by an NGO in 2010 on Dr Sudam Munde-in the spotlight recently for conducting an abortion on a 28-year-old woman in the third trimester, who allegedly died during the surgery-revealed that he indulged in sex selection  and admitted to “taking care of the disposal” of fetuses.

Beed district residents say he disposed of the fetuses by feeding them to dogs. The activists believe that if action had been taken against the doctor two years ago, many girl children could have been saved since. Sources say the doctor evaded punishment as he is a close relative of a senior state Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

On Monday, the police conducted an assessment of Munde’s property and have submitted an application to the Ambejogai sessions court that they be allowed to attach it. According to the government’s evaluation, Munde’s assets total up to Rs 150 crore.

Varsha Deshpande of Lek Ladki Abhiyan, the NGO working against the practice, said the doctor spoke in the sting about how an abortion could be conducted without evidence. “A pregnant volunteer went to Dr Munde’s clinic along with two witnesses to conduct the sting. About 90 women-from districts across Maharashtra and border areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh–were waiting for sex determination tests that day. A staffer told our volunteer that 25-40 abortions were done per day,” said Deshpande.

The doctor would tell the patient in a code form whether the foetus is male or female: ’16’ on the patient’s form would mean it was a boy-the digit ‘6’ standing for ‘b’-and ’19’-nine for ‘g’ if it was a girl, said Deshpande, adding that it cost a pregnant woman Rs 500 to determine the sex of a child and Rs 2,000 for sex selection . “When patients voiced inability to get rid of dead foetuses, the doctor would feed them to his eight dogs, put them in wells, or strew them across his 147-acre farm,” she said.

Even though Munde has been arrested by the police twice after the sting, he has been let off on bail. He and his wife have been absconding since the death of the 28-year-old woman.

“Doctors have avoided punishment and become brazen due to strong political backing. We hope there will be justice now,” said Dr A L Sharada, director of the NGO Population First’s Laadli campaign. State health minister Suresh Shetty said Munde’s bail will be cancelled. “Our officers will approach court. The director-general of police has been informed and he should be nabbed soon. The CID is conducting an independent probe and only when its report it out will we be able to establish all accusations against the doctor.”

Law-enforcing agencies, which do not clamp down on sex-selective abortions despite strong evidence, are equal partners in this crime against humanity. It’s also a sad commentary on our politicians if it’s true that there was political pressure to go soft on alleged offenders. It’s unfortunate that only media glare and clamour from activists can get government agencies to act in a way that they are required to by law.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

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