Srinagar- The disturbing trend of abandoning newborns continues in Kashmir, with over 71 unwanted babies being located and taken care of by two government-run hospitals in this capital city during the last 10 years.
The figures have been disclosed in a Right to Information (RTI) application moved by a lawyer and an activist based in Srinagar, who had previously raised the issue with the Social Welfare Department (SWD).The data, which spans from August 2010 to 2023,documents the distressing practice of parents abandoning their babies near garbage dumps, water bodies, and other disposal sites in the vicinity of two hospitals- Lalla Ded and GB Panth, which is now the government hospital for children in Srinagar.
Notably, the Kashmir Valley has witnessed a surge in cases of both baby dumping and baby abandonment, with a significant proportion of the affected infants being female or children with down syndrome. The data further reveals that LD hospital reported52 cases of abandoned babies from 2011 to 2023. Out of these, 45 babies were adopted, while 7 tragically did not survive. At the Government Children’s Hospital in Srinagar, authorities have provided care and supported 29 unwanted infants till now.
In response to this alarming trend, the administration has been establishing cradle centres at major hospitals and healthcare institutions in the Valley to address the distressing incidents of newborns being abandoned by their parents near disposal sites.
Advocate Badrul-Duja, who had filed the RTI, had urged the SWD to set up such centers in locations like mosques, marriage halls, water bodies, private and public hospitals, dispensaries, and garbage dumping sites to prevent the mortality of unwanted babies. He also stressed the importance of protecting the identity of these parents by limiting CCTV access.
Following his plea, the Director of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) directed all hospitals to install prominent signage for cradle centers, particularly in district hospitals with Maternity, Gynecology, and Pediatric units. “These centers should be easily visible, accessible 24/7, and open year-round,” the order reads. According to a report, approximately 10 babies are left at garbage dumps each month by their parents, making these locations perilous for newborns.
Duja expressed his concern, stating, “It is shocking that even newborns with conditions like autism, Down syndrome, or disabilities are being abandoned at dumping sites and other locations. Therefore, it is imperative to establish cradles at these locations without any delay.”
Commissioner Secretary to Government SWD, Sheetal Nanda didn’t respond to phone calls of this reporter.
However, Dr Anupa Sharma, Child protection officer in Mission Vatsalya J&K told Kashmir Observer that the government has set-up cradle centers in 10 districts of the UT so far and work is underway to establish such centers in other districts as well.
“We have specialised adoption agencies for that in social welfare. We have also cradle points for abandoned babies in 15 district hospitals so far” Sharma said.
She further added that the idea for such points is to take care of those babies who are abandoned by their parents.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.