As many as 19 aborted foetuses have been found dumped near a stream at a village in Maharashtra’s Sangli district, bordering Karnataka. DNA samples of the foetuses have now been sent to Mumbai for genetic testing to establish if this is a case of female foeticide. The matter came to light after a 26-year-old woman from Sangli’s Mhaisal village died following a botched-up abortion conducted illegally by homeopathic doctor Dr Babasaheb Khidrapure. After Swati Jamdade’s death on March 1, the villagers suspected foul play and approached the police. In the course of the investigation, the police found 19 bags with “products of conception” — a term commonly used by doctors for the foetus, the placenta and any other tissues that may result from a fertilised egg — on Sunday. The spot where the foetuses were recovered is about 1 km away from Khidrapure’s nursing home, where the abortion was carried out.
The foetuses were allegedly disposed of by one of his assistants. Khidrapure is currently absconding.
According to district civil surgeon Dr Sanjay Salunkhe, Swati had two daughters and had conceived for the third time. Sources among the villagers have said that Swati’s husband Praveen took her to Khidrapure’s hospital because she was carrying a girl child for the third time.
Superintendent of Police Dattatray Shinde said Praveen has been arrested. He added that police have registered a case under Section 304 of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Shinde further said that prima facie, it appears that Khidrapure was part of a racket and more doctors were involved.
The civil surgeon has said that Khidrapure has been booked for violating the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act and the Medical Practitioners Act. The homeopath’s nursing home was not registered under the Nursing Home Act and since he held a bachelor’s degree in homeopathy, he was not authorised to perform the abortion, Salunkhe said.
He added that during Swati’s postmortem, it was found her pregnancy was ectopic — the foetus was growing in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. In that case, he said, it is likely that the doctor adopted a crude method to expel the foetus. According to the post-mortem report, a rupture of the foetus led to haemorrhage.
Investigation has further revealed that the doctor allegedly referred several women to various places for sex determination tests. Highly-placed sources have hinted at the possibility of an inter-state racket for sex determination tests.
Shahin Shaikh, member of the Sangli district advisory committee on Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, said that there was an inter-state nexus among doctors and sonologists who recommended pregnant women for illegal sex determination tests. “Women from the local self-help groups know of the ‘agents’,” Shaikh said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Health Minister Deepak Sawant has said that the state government will take up the matter with Karnataka and emphasise the need for joint efforts to prevent such incidents.
With PTI inputs