Kolkata: A newborn baby was allegedly abducted by an unidentified woman from a government hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday, triggering protests, including a road blockade in the city's heart.
The incident took place at Kolkata Medical College and Hospital, the second oldest medical school to teach European medicine in Asia after Ecole de Medicine de Pondicherry.
The baby boy of Saraswati Naskar, who was admitted in the maternity ward on the second floor of the Eden Hospital building, was allegedly taken away by an unidentified woman on the pretext of a check-up around 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday.
An inconsolable Naskar said a woman wearing a green saree approached her and said the doctor wanted to see her baby. "I accompanied her. She carried the baby. When we neared a glass door, she asked me to go inside and check whether the doctor was there. When I came out, I found no trace of the woman and my child."
When the family could not find the baby, they got in touch with the authorities.
"We got in touch with the doctors and the hospital authorities but no one has any clue where the baby is. The authorities said they will check closed-circuit television footage, but now they are saying the camera does not work," said Naskar's mother-in-law.
In November last year, the West Bengal Crime Investigation Department had unearthed an inter-state trafficking racket in newborns by two private clinics in Baduria in North-24 Parganas.
An eyewitness said she saw the woman suspect go out of the Eden hospital building with the child.
"I found it a bit strange that she went out through that particular exit, which people generally do not use. But I had no idea that she was stealing the child."
Naskar, who gave birth to the baby boy on March 10, was to be discharged on Thursday.
When contacted, Hospital Medical Superintendent Sikha Banerjee said: "We are in the midst of hooliganism by the patient party. This is not the right time to make a comment."
As the news spread, relatives of the family as also Bharatiya Janata Party activists arrived in strength at the hospital. They staged a demonstration and demanded the authorities rescue the baby.
Left Front legislature party leader Sujon Chakraborty also reached the spot and spoke to the family.
Within hours, the police released a footage of the woman suspect carrying a baby inside a Metro station.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Vishal Garg announced a Rs one lakh reward for anyone providing information about the woman. All Metro stations and police stations were placed on high alert.
Things became volatile in the evening as protestors put up a blockade on the arterial Central Avenue with bricks and bamboo poles. "We won't lift the blockade until and unless the baby is found," said a youth.
State Health Director B.R. Satpathy said the government was trying to find the child and law would take its course if there was a security lapse.
"We are looking into how the baby was stolen from a government hospital. We are trying and have succeeded in tracing the child to some extent. Police is investigating.
"Negligence has not been proved. If there is a security lapse, we will take action. Law will take its course," he said.