In a disturbing development that comes as a blot on the Social Welfare Department’s decade-long effort to end female infanticide, a father of four allegedly killed his youngest baby girl feeding her milk of spurge plant in Dharmapuri district recently.
The incident came to light on Wednesday following a complaint lodged by some villagers who grew suspicious on Tuesday over the sudden death and quiet burial of a 22-day-old baby girl born to R Madhaiyan and Mala. The couple already has three girls.
While Madhaiyan has been arrested, Collector R Lilly has directed officials to exhume the infant’s body and conduct a postmortem.
Feeding spurge milk to kill baby girls is a notorious practice widely prevalent in Salem, Dharmapuri and some southern districts until the early part of the Millennium despite introduction of the Cradle Baby Scheme under which parents who were unable to raise girls could deposit babies with the Social Welfare Department.
However, from mid-2000s, female infanticide was largely contained in Dharmapuri. Last year, the district report a suspected case of female infanticide and the body of a girl was exhumed.
Mom’s effort fails
Meanwhile, sources indicated that Mala had struggled hard to convince Madhaiyan not to kill the baby.
Madhaiyan, who works as a labourer in Bangalore, was upset that his wife could not beget him a male child. “Though Mala tried to convince him to accept the baby, he was angry and left soon after the child was born. He returned a week ago and attempted to feed spurge milk to the baby but Mala snatched the baby from him,” claimed a source.