A newborn baby girl was rescued after she was reportedly buried alive.
The infant had been left to die in the sand pit of a field but a child spotted her feet poking out of the ground. The baby, thought to have been no more than 6 hours old at the time, was rescued and was rushed to a nearby hospital where officials say she is still being observed.
The discovery was made in the Jajpur district of Odisha. In that area of India, many families hope to have sons and will go to great lengths to avoid raising a daughter.
Jajpur district’s chief medical officer Fanindra Kumar Panigrahi gave an update on the baby’s health.
“She is doing fine, and all her parameters are normal,” Panigrahi told Agence France-Presse, according to the Daily Mail. “She is a full-term baby, weighing around [5.5 pounds]. Her umbilical cord was intact and body was still covered with vernix.”
Alok Rout, who helped with the rescue, said: “It was a little kid who first saw the feet of the child buried under a compost dump in a field. Later we rushed to the spot and rescued the newborn girl.”
Rout said the baby’s face had been covered with a piece of cloth. Staff at the hospital where the baby was taken have named her Dharitri, a Sanskrit word that means “the earth.”
The girl is expected to be handed over to the state-run welfare committee when she is discharged from the hospital. Police have since arrested the baby girl’s father after he confessed to burying her alive.
The girl’s father is suspected to be 35-year-old Ramesh Chandra Basantia. He allegedly buried the newborn baby in a field near his house, just two hours after his wife gave birth.
Basantia is a part-time driver who already has four children, according to Jajpur Superintendent of Police Anup Kumar Sahu. Because his house is in an isolated location, nobody witnessed the burial of the girl.
The Daily Mail reports that, prior to Basantia’s arrest, local police officer Jyoti Prakash Panda said, “Chances are it was a case of female [infanticide] and it is clear that the accused wanted to kill her.”
Female infanticide, the deliberate killing of female babies, is more common than male infanticide, according to the BBC. In places where female infanticide is common, men are responsible for their family’s social and economic stability, thus making male the preferred sex of a new family member.