Rashid Paul

HC directs police to recover and restore infant ‘abducted by father’ to mother’s custody

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court Tuesday directed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, to take every measure to ensure recovery of the 24-days-old baby who has been taken away from her mother by her in-laws.

Acting on a petition by one Mahrukh Iqbal of Jammu, married in an ‘influential’ family in Nishat area of the city outskirts a year ago, Justice A M Magray directed the SSP to “take all measures, whatever are necessary, to ensure recovery of the female child of the petitioner from the private respondents including the husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law by 4.30 pm” today.

Posting the matter for next hearing on September 01, Justice Margay further advised the SSP that he may assign the recovery duty to a police team and authorized him to “raid any place and household you may suspect the child has been confined in, or kept hidden at”.

The aggrieved petitioner apprehends that her baby might have been eliminated by her in-laws, an apprehension which the court did not rule out.

The SSP has also been directed to keep a magistrate along to fulfill any legal formality besides taking a pediatrician for immediate medical help the infant may need.

In July this year, Mahrukh, the petitioner, consulted a gynecologist in relation to her pregnancy.

“The doctor advised and recommended me to undergo a caesarean section delivery. Contrary to the medical advice, my husband insisted on normal delivery,” she said in her petition.

Zahoor Ahmad Shah, my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law also connived in this act of antipathy for medical advice and were forcing me to undergo ‘natural delivery’, the petition added.

“This led to an altercation and I was deserted in the last month of my pregnancy. Being in the advanced stage of pregnancy and having no one to fall back upon in Srinagar, I was compelled to call my parents from Jammu,” the petitioner said.

On 23rd of July, Mahrukh’s parents flew to Srinagar and shifted her to a hotel in the city. Two weeks later they admitted their daughter in Government JLNM Hospital, Rainawari, Srinagar.

The doctors at the hospital, after conducting different medical tests, advised her to undergo C-section delivery on the very same day as the baby’s life was under threat.

She tried to inform her husband about it, but to her dismay he had blocked her phone number, she told the court.

A female child was born to her 7th of August after undergoing C-section.

Meanwhile, her husband also came to the hospital “with some goons” and threatened her of dire consequences for having undergone C-section against his wishes and that of his family, the lady informed the court.

She alleged that her brother-in-law also came to the hospital and unsuccessfully tried to abduct the baby.

Later her father-in-law and the mother-in-law adopted a conciliatory strategy and apologized to the lady and assured her that no harm would be caused to her or to the infant. They prevailed up on her to accompany them to the home, said the petition.

The petitioner believed their apologies to be genuine and agreed.

However, after reaching home, her baby was snatched away and she was forcefully locked in a room and most of her medical records were also seized from her, the peitition says.

“I enquired from my father-in-law about the whereabouts of my baby who told me that I would never be able to see my daughter again” she told the court.

“On 18th of August, I managed to get hold of a mobile phone and contacted the Women’s Police Helpline to lodge a complaint after which I was taken to the Women Police Station, Rambagh. However, no action was taken on my complaint and my father-in-law being an influential person, managed to suppress the case,” she told the court.

Thereafter, the petitioner went to her parents.

On August 27, the matter reached the court where her father-in-law pledged to surrender the baby before the Registrar Judicial by 4:30 PM. However, he failed to live to his commitment.

As on date, the 24-days-old female child continues to be deprived of her mother’s milk, care and bondage for the last 20 days. She also continues to be denied skin-to-skin touch and eye-contact with her mother – characteristics that help the babies to develop a bond with mothers and the resultant security.

“It is imaginable to what loss the infant child of the petitioner has so far been put to physically, mentally and otherwise, and to what pain and agony the mother of the petitioner has been put,” observed the court while directing for immediate recovery of the child and entrusting her to the custody of mother.

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