Karachi: With the discovery of yet another female foetus from a sewerage drain in Sharafi Goth, Landhi Town, on Thursday, the number of “unwanted babies” — both foetuses and newborns — found in the city this month has now hit 20, Edhi spokesperson Anwer Kazmi informed The News.
This is the second baby to be found dead in the last two days. The female foetus found the other day was a day old, Edhi rescue workers said, while SHO Landhi Town Karam Khan Lashari says that the foetus that was brought on Thursday was one-month old.
Kazmi says that, on an average, the number of babies found in the city on any given day is 20. The head of the Chhipa rescue service, Ramzan Chhipa, points out that most of these babies are found in the suburbs of Karachi.
After working in the medico-legal departments of three of Karachi’s major public hospitals, a police surgeon said that out of the three post-mortems he had carried out last year, the cause of death of two of newborn babies was poisoned milk. “In some cases, the newborn babies are still alive when they are dumped in garbage,” he adds.
According to him, a post-mortem examination is crucial to ascertain the cause of death. However, no post-mortem examination is carried out in most of the cases. In all the recent cases of dumped babies, the bodies were taken to an Edhi morgue, and buried within a day.
“Who has time for that?” asks Kazmi dejectedly. “There is no investigation and the least effort that is put is to get done with the paper work, that’s it.”Though the rescue workers do their job of finding these bodies from the nooks and crannies of the city, they do not have a lot to say when it comes to matters of investigation.
Salman, an Edhi rescue worker, says that whenever he finds an infant’s body, he needs to get a letter signed by the police seeking their permission for the cleaning and burial. “Nothing more is asked of us; so we do as we are told,” he says.
The police surgeon claims that in most of the cases, the police do not get the body for further examination. And they cannot pursue the case enough, because, according to police rules 24, 32, 34 and 35, the investigation officer can independently investigate the matter without the help of the police surgeon.
SHO Lashari says that physical examination is almost impossible in such cases, as the “system to do that has not been established as such”. “The least the police can do in such cases,” he adds, “is to investigate the matter.” He feels that cases “point towards an increasing number of illegal abortions”.
The police surgeon says that even though abortions as such are not illegal, the manner in which a majority of them are carried out, definitely are. “Even if an illegal abortion is done, a post-mortem can reveal if the baby was a still born, or if it had suffered a natural death or a -degree murder,” the police surgeon adds.
Similarly, in a case in which an infant’s body was found near sewerage drain just a day ago in the Rajput Colony of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 3, the medico-legal officer’s (MLO) help was not sought in the matter at all. Some newspapers reported that an MLO at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Jalil Qadir, had conducted the post-mortem of the baby. But when the MLO was contacted by The News, he denied having carried out any post-mortem.
The SHO handling the case has also denied going to the hospital for any post-mortem examinations. “We handed over the body to the Edhi rescue service for burial. We cannot perform medico-legal examination on a baby,” SHO Khan Mohammad of Mobina Town informed The News on the phone.