For about a week, she tried hard to hold on and fight hard. But allegedly brutalised by her father for being born a girl, she stood little chance.
Baby Neha Afreen died after a cardiac arrest in a government hospital in Bangalore on Wednesday morning.
The three-month-old baby was admitted to the Vani Vilas Hospital on Thursday night, April 5, with a severe head injury, dislocated neck and bite and burn marks on her body.
Her father Umar Farooq, a car painter, is accused of inflicting the injuries on her because he wanted a male child.
Though Afreen had showed signs of recovery on Tuesday, her condition deteriorated by evening because of repeated convulsions.
‘She was in semi-comatose state since Tuesday evening. We had put her on life support system. Unfortunately, she could not make it,’ said Dr Some Gowda, medical superintendent of the hospital.
The hospital authorities were awaiting a team of doctors from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences for assistance because the baby had suffered internal head injuries.
But Afreen could no longer fight. She had hurried respiration of 30-40 per minute against the normal 20-25 and also pathycardia, or increased heart rate.
She breathed her last at 11.10 am shortly after a cardiac arrest.
The baby’s mother, 19-year-old Reshma Banu, was inconsolable when the doctors broke the news to her. Afreen was her only child and she had been in a state of shock since Thursday.
Reshma claims that her 37-year-old drunkard husband used to beat her up since Afreen was born.
Last Thursday, he came home drunk in the evening and abused her again for giving birth to a girl.
When Reshma went off to sleep, Farooq is accused of stuffing clothes into Afreen’s mouth to muffle her cries and hitting her with a blunt object.
Reshma, who woke up in the middle of the night, saw the baby suffering convulsions.
She informed her husband, who appeared uninterested. When the baby vomited blood, Farooq fled.
With the help of her neighbours, Reshma hospitalised Afreen. It’s alleged Farooq had assaulted the child twice in the past but Reshma did not complain because she wanted to save the marriage.
Once, he had bitten the baby. On another occasion, Reshma found cigarette burn marks on her forehead and back.
Reshma was initially afraid of approaching the police. The hospital authorities informed the Child Welfare Committee, which prevailed upon her to lodge a complaint against her husband.
Farooq, who went absconding after the alleged assault of his own daughter, was arrested on Sunday and is now in judicial custody till April 21. He will now face murder charges.
The baby’s death has outraged the civil society just weeks after the story of Baby Falak had shocked the country.
The Karnataka state commission for protection of child rights demanded that Afreen’s death be treated as a murder case because the attack on the baby was intentional.
The state human rights commission has sent a notice to Bangalore city police commissioner B. G. Jyothi Prakash Mirji to personally oversee the case and report in two weeks.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Shantha Sinha demanded speedy action against the father.
Killing of the female foetus and the girl child is rampant in India where even the educated and the rich are known to prefer male child.
According to the 2011 Census report, the sex ratio in India stands at 914 females per 1,000 males.
A Unicef report said sex selective abortion by unethical medical professionals has grown into a Rs 1,000-crore industry.
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