The heart-wrenching incidents of neonatal abandonment are on the rise in Srinagar. The most recent instance occurred on Friday last week in Nowhatta , Srinagar, where a lifeless newborn was found lying on the road. A telling picture of this nameless infant was shared widely on Facebook and thus invoked anger , rage and dismay among netizens over the bestial treatment of this infant. As usual, the outrage began and ended on our phones. If we were are going to take previous such incidents into consideration, in order to study the societal pattern of responses towards the desertion of infants, what we will get to know is that people have been simply indifferent to this social evil. Over and above, no social, political or religious organization has taken any cognizance of these atrocious acts, but what if this baby in Nowhatta would have been lying dead on the road due to some other reasons, and had he been hit by pellets or bullets; we could have witnessed a different reaction altogether. If pellets and bullets would have made him a victim of state cruelty then his abandonment and thereof our indifference to the same is definitely worst kind of societal cruelness. The comparison that I am drawing here may sound absurd to many people, but I don’t find any other way to expose the double standards in our society.
The deplorable acts of infant abandonment takes place in every corner of the world but the same should not become an excuse for us to brush such acts under the carpet. Making assumptions for the sake of change is not bad. In that case, one such assumption would be that it is due to the lack of public institutions that our society is witnessing this social evil. In presence of institutions, if a person is not willing to own a child for any reason whatsoever, he or she can handover the same to an orphanage and this way a life could be saved.
We also cannot dismiss the possibility of poor economic background as being a determinant of this social evil; the government and society should come up with a mechanism which will establish the measure of poverty among the poor. This way we can recognize the problems of poor people who have been either ignored or taken lightly by society, in general, and it is these problems which often pave way for assorted social evils. Some people regard moral decline as the reason for rise in newborn abandonment incidents in Kashmir but I want to question such people that why this ‘moral decline’ is not taken into account when it comes to our obligations towards the society.
According to media reports, at least 5 infants (girl child) were abandoned inside the LD maternity hospital, Srinagar, in the last one month, and a few people have came forward to adopt these newborn infants (which is certainly a compassionate act). If someone is being humane towards the abandoned infants, it is undoubtedly praiseful but it should not encourage us to remain silent and eschew the inhumane acts of infant abandonments; rather, we should try to find reasons behind this disturbing trend in our society. One thing about the infant forsaking is certain that such acts cannot performed by a single person; instead, these acts are being executed by a certain group of people.
While I was sketching an outline of this article, I inquired from some middle-aged men that if they have witnessed any baby abandonments cases before 5-10 years. One person told me that he has been a witness to such instances wherein trunk boxes were abandoned on roofs of buses which on inspection would contain the dead body of an infant and also dead babies were draped with towels and then left inside passenger vehicles. All these persons who I talked to about this disturbing social evil told me one thing in common that is “before several years, these acts would not go unnoticed in the society and people always used to raise their voice against these inhumane acts but today people are maintaining a stoic silence over this issue which is really disheartening.”
Infant abandonment is an act of utmost savagery, and murder, pure and simple. Without social intervention, this social evil cannot be rooted out. The time to act is now!
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]