Parents shun girl in baby mix-up
Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi
A bizarre battle has broken out between two couples over a mix-up involving their newborns, with the parents of a baby girl refusing to take her back and demanding to keep the boy handed to them apparently in error.
The two healthy babies were born at RSRM Maternity Hospital in Royapuram, Chennai, south India, within an hour of each other this week.
The babies were swapped in circumstances under investigation. The boy went to Vijay and Kamatchi Elangovan, and the girl to Farheed and Mohammed Ansari.
After the parents had taken the babies home, the hospital realised its mistake and called them. To the medical superintendent's astonishment, the Elangovans refused to give up the baby boy.
'The boy is mine. We don't want a baby girl. We can't afford to raise a girl and we're happy with the boy. I'm sure this baby is mine and I'm not giving him up,' Mr Elangovan said.
The Ansaris were also upset. 'We want our son. We haven't even seen our baby. I can't explain the agony we're going through. We don't want to keep the girl because she isn't ours,' Mr Ansari said.
Kamatchi Elangovan's mother, Lakshmi, told The Times of India that 'my daughter came out of the theatre with the baby boy. She fed him. We are happy to have a boy. We don't want the girl.' She threatened to immolate herself if the babies were returned to their biological parents.
The parents have returned the babies to the hospital, where they lie side by side.
'I'm appalled at the foolishness of these parents,' said Renuka Choudhary, minister for women and children. 'It's time Indians realised that if you educate girls, they are as much support and help - probably more, actually - than any boy.'
The Times of India reports that police are investigating whether hospital workers were trying to fleece at least one of the couples.
The police have asked the local magistrate for help settling the dispute. The magistrate ordered a DNA test to establish paternity. The results are expected in a week.