KOLKATA: A domestic help, who is jobless since the past three months after her employers asked her not to come fearing COVID-19 infection, and her daily wage earner husband living in West Midnapore district, allegedly sold their two-and-a-half-month daughter for Rs 3,000.
The heart-wrenching plight of the jobless couple came to light on Thursday after police and officers of NGO Childline recovered the infant from a house in Howrah. The child was admitted to a state-run hospital and her parents are still at large.
Agnishwar Chowdhury, a sub-divisional police officer of Ghatal, said the child was recovered from a couple’s house who are distant relatives of the real parents.
“After investigation, police came to know the child was sold for Rs 3,000,’’ he said.
According to eyewitnesses’ statements, Bapan Dhara and his wife Tapasi, residents of Ghatal, became jobless during the lockdown.
“The couple’s neighbours told us Tapasi used to work as domestic help. Most families are not allowing their domestic helps at their houses. Tapasi lost her job. Bapan, too, was a daily wage earner and he, too, had no work. We learnt the couple was struggling to procure food for the child,’’ said a police officer.
The police came to know Bapan has a distant relative living in Howrah district.
“The first tip-off we received was from Bapan’s neighbours who could not find the child anywhere. They did not hear her crying. When we started probing, we came to know about Bapan’s distance relatives, who are a childless couple,’’ said the officer.
Sandip Kumar Bose, the district child protection officer, said the infant would be kept at the hospital for three to four days. “After that we will send the child to a state-run home,’’ he said.
Shankar Dalui, MLA of Ghatal, said he was not ready to accept that the couple sold the infant because of fund crunch.
“The state government has floated several schemes for the poor. Rice is being given free of cost. There are other schemes as well. Even after this if the couple sold their daughter it is unthinkable,’’ he said.
Lockdown took away their livelihood
Bapan Dhara and his wife Tapasi, residents of Ghatal, became jobless during the lockdown. Tapasi used to work as a domestic help while Bapan was a daily wage earner. The COVID-19 lockdown took away their livelihoods.