Kolkata: Five traumatic days later, Salma Begum of Jalpaiguri has been reunited with her infant daughter, allegedly sold off by her husband to a local school teacher for Rs. 25,000.
The husband, Bulbul Haq, has been arrested, as well as the teacher Atul Basak, who is suspected to have brokered a deal and sold the infant to another teacher in the neighbouring district of Cooch Behar, 40 km away.
“I thought I would never see her again,” said 22-year-old Salma who also has a three-year-old son. “I am so happy I have her back. And I have nothing to say about my husband,” she added.
Salma and her daughter are now in the care of the Jalpaiguri Child Welfare Committee (CWC). Her son will also be brought to the CWC home. “The family will stay with us as long as they like, certainly till the mother is ready to leave,” said Sashmita Ghosh, the district child welfare officer.
The police have arrested the father and the broker but the alleged buyer is still not traced. “There are some grey areas,” said Superintendent of Police A Ravindranath. “We are investigating whether it was a case of outright sale or some kind of deal gone wrong.”
According to Salma Begum, her husband did not want to keep the girl from the moment she was born. “I cannot feed her and clothe her, he said,” recounted Salma.
On 19 April, the day after the baby was born, Haq handed her over to Basak and his wife Malavika. Salma protested but in vain.
Haq reportedly took the money in advance and promised to give them the baby. “I told them I would work and earn money and return it to them,” said Salma. “But they refused to listen to me.”
Sasmita Ghosh agreed there were some discrepancies in what Salma and the police were saying. “But we will wait for Salma to recover and then probe the details,” she said.
For now, Salma is focussing on her daughter. She has even decided upon a name for her – Kripa or blessing.