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A young couple in their early 30s abandoned their newborn child in the premises of a church in Kochi on Friday night because they were ridiculed by their friends and relatives for having a fourth child, police said on Sunday.
Bitto Davis (32) and his wife Pravitha Davis (30) were arrested in the wee hours of Saturday from their home in Wadakkanchery in Thrissur district, 90 kilometres from Kochi, after they were identified on CCTV cameras. While one visual showed the duo entering the premises of St George’s Forane Church in Edapally, along with their baby and one of the children, the other video showed Bitto planting a kiss on the forehead of the newborn before leaving her by the side of a pillar inside a stall. The church, a major pilgrimage centre for Roman Catholics, had celebrated its annual feast last month for which the stalls were raised.
The newborn was found by church officials who immediately alerted the police, following which the couple was arrested, produced before a magistrate and sent to remand.
“They already have three sons, aged 8, 6 and 4, and this was their fourth child. Bitto spoke of getting mocked by his friends for having four children in such quick succession and I think that is why he was disturbed. His friends would often apparently comment on the size of his wife’s belly and keep prodding whether she’s pregnant,” a police officer, who is investigating the case, said.
“After his wife’s delivery in Thrissur, they took a train to Kochi and arrived at the church to leave the baby. Bitto said he has some of kind of belief in this particular church,” the officer added.
The officer also said that Bitto, who does plumbing and wiring work for a living, does not seem to have any financial constraints to raise a fourth child. “They have a two-storey home,” he said.
Police said a DNA test would be conducted to ascertain whether the newborn belonged to the couple, following which they would collect evidence before submitting the chargesheet.
The couple has been charged under section 317 (for abandonment of children under 12 years by parent or person taking care of it) of the Indian Penal Code and 75 (punishment for cruelty to child) of the Juvenile Justice Act. If convicted, the duo could face upto seven years of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the newborn has been kept under the protection of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).