When a child about two years old was abandoned and was brought to Woman and child protection unit (WCPU) of Thimphu police station, it not only shocked the police but also those who knew about the child.
The child found by one of the passersby on 4 April was handed over to the WCPU.
A woman had taken the child who is supposedly between the age of two to three years for a week but due to her busy schedule the baby was brought back to the police. Confused, about what to do with the kid, the police had tried to find the mother but all in vain.
However, the mother of the child, Tshering Dema as she claimed her name to be through a phone call had called up the officer in-charge (OC) of the WCPU and said that she will be busy for two weeks and requested the police to look after the baby in the meantime.
“After, two weeks I will come down to police station and sign any documents and give away the child to anyone who wants to take care of the baby,” the mother had told the OC of the WCPU.
Since then, the child was with the police but on 8 April, a 25-year old private employee volunteered to take care of the child until the mother turns up to get the baby.
“The child is so sweet and I feel pity for the child. When I was bathing him in the evening, his body was full of wounds. The mother should be punished by law for endangering the child,” the 25-year old explained.
This act of callousness was compounded by the fact that the mother of the child was a habitual alcoholic and she already had six more siblings to look after.
There have been many such incidents reported earlier by media for the need of shelters for such children. But the concerned authorities seem least bothered about such rising incidents which have left such people to suffer.
And in this case it’s also the WCPU who are left in dilemma when such matters are reported to them.
The WCPU of the Thimphu police station has been functioning no less than an NGO, providing food, clothes and also shelter for those who have nowhere to go and wander into its premises.
“When such cases are reported to us, we are left with no choice rather than to look into the matter and later explore other possibilities and measures to help them. People with mental problem, abandoned children and homeless people are brought to WCPU as people do not know where to take or hand over so they just hand over it to us,” the WCPU OC Captain Wangdi said.
“We have become no less than an NGO and people are expecting too much from us. With the limited resource we have to work.”
Some people argued that the mother should be punished for her act while some felt pity. Others say the mother should be prosecuted on counts of endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person.
The section 215 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004 states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of abandonment of an infant or a child, if a defendant is a parent, guardian, or other person legally charged with the care or custody of an infant or a child and the defendant leaves the infant or child in any place with the intent to abandon the infant or child.
While the section 217 say that a defendant shall have a defence to the offence of abandonment of an infant or a child, if the defendant leaves the infant or a child in a place where the infant or a child will be cared for appropriately.
The offence of abandonment of an infant or a child shall be a misdemeanor with a prison term of less than three years and minimum of a year if convicted.
The child is known as ‘Police baby’ since he is not able to speak.
Chencho Dema / Thimphu