Mumbai: Families Vie to Adopt Baby Abandoned at Community Centre

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Mumbai:  A three-month-old baby girl went through remarkable change in fortunes twice on the same day, after her mother abandoned her at a local Muslim community centre at Crawford Market on Tuesday.

While some would pity the child for being cast off by her own mother, this hardly means she is unwanted. For, as soon as she registered her mother’s absence and began bawling, she was found by employees at the community centre and local shopkeepers, who were so charmed by her that no fewer than eight families have now come forward to adopt her.

The incident took place on the afternoon of February 17, just as employees at Market Halai Memon Jamatkhana were finishing their prayers. They heard a baby wailing and began to look for the source of the sound when they found the baby wrapped in a red blanket on the sofa outside the office area. Beside her was a milk bottle, an extra set of clothes and a note that had possibly been written by her mother.

“We found a baby in the sitting area just beside the office. The baby was crying continuously; for a long period we tried to calm her, but no avail. Eventually three women passing by helped us stop the baby crying,” said Moosa Saiaai, assistant manager of the centre.

The note found with the baby was written in Urdu that, roughly translated, read, “Please don’t inform the police station or orphanage about the baby or they will give it to a Hindu family. It is a Muslim child and I want a Muslim family to take care of it.”

Despite the instruction, the baby girl was handed over to the L T Marg police, who first sent her for a health check-up at J J Hospital and then admitted her in the orphanage, Asha Sadan. However, the girl’s mysterious appearance at the Jamatkhana raised hopes for at least eight couples (all Muslim), who now hope to give her a home.

“I have been married for more than 10 years and I don’t have a child. When I got to know about the incident, I asked if I could adopt the baby. My family will be really happy if this happens,” said Wasim Qureshi (42), who runs two juice centres at Crawford Market. Like him, Mohammad Sayyed Arshad (45), a local shopkeeper, also got in touch with the police to ask about the adoption process.

“When I saw the commotion near the Jamatkhana and got to know about the incident, I immediately thought about the love and care the child would get at my house. I have been married for 25 years without a child, and the baby will fill our house with happiness. We will be in contact with the police and orphanage,” he said.

The police said they directed the hopeful families to the orphanage and would try to help them once the baby’s documentation was complete. “This is the first time that such an incident has taken place in our vicinity.

There were quite a few families who contacted us and showed interest to adopt the baby, but since we have already admitted the baby at Asha Sadan, we took their details and informed them that once the documentation is done, we will update them about the process,” said Senior Police Inspector (Crime) Rajkumar Kothmire, from L T Marg police Station.

Meanwhile, the police suspect from the note that the child was abandoned by her mother, and have filed a charge against an unidentified person under Section 317 (abandonment of child under 12 years) of the Indian Penal Code.

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