A mother’s year-long search for her missing baby in India came to an end on Wednesday when a court handed over the child to her.
Soutik Biswas and Ashraf Padanna report on a scandal which has caused outrage and whipped up a political storm.
For more than two weeks now, a couple has been protesting outside an adoption agency in the southern state of Kerala, demanding the return of their missing child.
Amid pounding rains and under the glare of cameras, they have camped under a tarp on a thrumming thoroughfare in the capital, Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum). When night falls, the couple retire to a Suzuki minivan, parked alongside the road.
The woman holds up a placard, saying “Give me my baby.” She says her family gave away her child for adoption without her consent, an accusation that her father denies.
OnOctober19 last year, Anupama Chandran gave birth to a boy, weighing about 2kg (4.4 pounds), in a local hospital.
The 22-year-old activist had braved social stigma by having a child out of wedlock with her already-married boyfriend, Ajith Kumar Baby, 34, who worked as a public relations officer in a hospital.
The relationship and the pregnancy had whipped up a storm in the woman’s family.
Having a child out of wedlock is anathema in India. Making matters more fraught was the fact that Anupama belongs to a dominant caste compared to Ajith, who’s a Dalit (formerly untouchables), who languish at the bottom of India’s rigid caste hierarchy. Inter-caste and inter-faith marriages are frowned upon.
Yet, both Anupama and Ajith hailed from what many Indians would regard as middle class, progressive families.
Both families were staunch supporters of the state’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) – Kerala is a traditional redoubt of parliamentary Communism.
A physics graduate, Anupama, was the first woman to head the students’ union of Communist party in her college. Ajith was a leader of the party’s youth wing.
They had grown up in the same neighbourhood and met while working for the Communist party. Three years ago, they began living together. -BBC