GUWAHATI: It is a script straight from a Bollywood melodrama. An Assam court on Wednesday formally allowed two babies, accidentally swapped after birth in a government hospital in March 2015, to continue living with the parents in whose homes they ended up by mistake.
One of the babies was born to tribal Bodo parents and the other to a Muslim couple in northern Assam’s Mangaldoi town. But the Bodo boy will be raised by the Muslim couple and the Muslim boy by the Bodo couple.
In a region where clashes between the two communities have often claimed lives, there cannot, perhaps, be a better example of communal amity. The decision that the boys will keep living with their foster parents was formalised in the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Darrang.
When the boys’ fathers, Anil Bodo and Sahabuddin Ahmed, submitted an affidavit in the court stating they would not exchange the boys, the judge did not object. The families also agreed that if the boys decided, on reaching adulthood, that they wanted to live with their biological parents, neither would object.
The families’ decision was prompted by their love for and attachment to the kids. Ahmed is a schoolteacher from Badlichar while Bodo is a farmer, who lives in Bejarpara. Both are villages in Mangaldoi district, 20 km apart.
Ahmed told The New Indian Express that he had been confused by his kid’s features as he grew up. “As he started growing up, we were confused as he resembled a tribal kid. Later, I filed an RTI query and, as per records provided by hospital authorities, a Hindu tribal woman had also given birth to a boy in the same ward and almost around the same time that day. I contacted the tribal couple and they were also confused about their child. Later, both families agreed to get DNA tests done on the two kids. The tests confirmed our suspicion,” Ahmed said.
The two families then filed a case with the police, alleging negligence by hospital staff and demanding action against them. But health department authorities only transferred two nurses. Darrang deputy commissioner A K Barman, said a judicial inquiry was underway. A report will be submitted by February 10.