The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) in Thimphu has registered 5 cases of abandonment and death infant’s cases in 2017. As per their records, they have recovered the body of dead infants from Babesa welcome gate, Changangkha, Debsi and from Changbangdu in Thimphu.
The most recent incident, took place on 26 August at around 8 PM when after receiving a complaint from a man, police have recovered the body of an infant from Changbangdu where accept for the head and part of a shoulder, the dogs has eaten everything else.
Brother (nurse) Kuenzang Norbu from Forensic Department, JDWNRH said “The baby was a full term delivery baby as there was a growth of hair and nail,” he said.
He said that, they have recovered bodies of infants which are both pre-mature and mature delivery babies.
“There are some cases where the dead infants were delivered in the hospital. We could make it out from the dead bodies of the babies as the same thread is used to clamp and tie the umbilical cord in the hospital”, he added.
He said that, the reason behind the abandonment of the dead infants cannot be explained unless they find their biological parents. However, he said that, it can be because of uncaring family members, family disputes, social problems and an unwanted baby.
He said that, the bodies of an infant were recovered from various places also due to improper disposal. “When it is an improper disposal, the problem has to be faced by police and us”, he added.
He said that, some people have a religious believe whereby the people believe that a child who dies below the age of 7 cannot be cremated. It is believed that the body of the child should either be buried underground or left in the hills.
He said it is possible that when people do not dispose the body well, the dead bodies of infants are found in places where the dogs carry the body from nearby rivers and leave it after eating most parts of the body.
He said that, there was one case in the past year, where the dead body of an infant was found by a passer-by, packed in a carton box and left near the river bed.
He said that, “Police and we got involved whereby we could make out that the baby was delivered in the hospital because the cartoon box where the body of the infant was packed was a medical carton box from the hospital”.
He also said that, upon investigation and while cross checking the dead infant in the hospital, they found that a couple kept the body of their infant near the river as the mother of the baby had given still birth in the hospital.
“After all the findings, we handed over the body of an infant to the father and made them do a proper disposal with a help of RBP in the river far from the town area. The dead body was found unharmed and the mother was still admitted in the hospital when the incident took place”, he added.
He said that, if an infant has died, it is parent’s responsibility to dispose it in a better place.
He said that, the forensic department is not fully established as they have just started toxicology unit. However, he said that, during their findings he said that, to some extent they can make it out if the baby is a pre-mature birth or mature delivery.
He also said that, they can discover the time and date of the death. They have to find this physically through postmortem but they do not do autopsy as they do not have the facility to do.
“We can scientifically find out the approximate age of the death infant through various bone check-ups”, he said.
“Even the death of an infant in the hospital is examined he said, adding that, to give the findings on why the baby died”, he added.
RBP, OC of Thimphu city said that, the most challenging in connection to such cases is the identification of a body whereby half of the body will be eaten by stray dogs leaving the baby even without a gender identification.
He also said that, this kind of issue comes when the people fail to dispose the body of the infant properly and some due to illegal abortion. He said that, as per section 219 of PCB 2004, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of abandonment of a dead infant, if the defendant leaves a dead corpse of an infant in any place or manner other than required by practice of disposal of such corpse.
In addition, the section 220 of PCB 2004 states that, the offence of abandonment of a dead infant shall be a petty misdemeanor.
After examination by the department and investigation by police, the brother said that, they hand over the body to Thromde for proper disposal.