The maternity ward at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kottayam witnessed dramatic scenes on Thursday as a two-day-old baby was stolen from the hospital. Within a couple of hours, the police recovered the baby from a woman staying at a hotel nearby.
The Gandhinagar police recorded the arrest of Neethu R Raj, a 33-year-old Tiruvalla native who has been residing at Kalamassery in Ernakulam, in connection with the incident.
The series of incidents began to unfold by 3pm when Neethu approached Aswathy — a resident of Vandiperiyar in Idukki — who gave birth on Wednesday. According to the hospital authorities, Neethu approached Aswathy pretending to be a nurse and took the baby away, ostensibly for medical care. When the baby was not returned even after 30 minutes, Aswathy enquired at the nursing station. She was shocked to know that none of the nurses on duty had taken her baby.
The MCH authorities soon passed on the information to the police aid post on the hospital campus, and Aswathy launched a complaint with the Gandhinagar police station.
Stealing of infant: Medical college hospital dismisses security lapses
Within an hour, the police sealed the area and launched a massive search on the roads. By 5pm, an autorickshaw driver first spotted a woman under suspicious circumstances with a baby near the hospital. As he tried to stop her, the woman ran towards the hotel.
Alerted by the autorickshaw driver, the police arrived on the spot and took her into custody. Dr R P Renjin, the resident medical officer at MCH, who dismissed security lapses on the part of the hospital, said a detailed report has been sought in connection with the incident.
“This is the first time that such an incident has happened here. The lady dressed as a nurse asked for the baby to be handed over to treat jaundice. She behaved like a nursing staff, and hence, no one suspected her. We will take steps to ensure that such incidents don’t happen in the future,” he said.
Neethu took a room at the hotel on Tuesday, accompanied by an eight-yearold boy. Following her arrest, the boy was shifted to a rescue centre. The police said the accused admitted that she kidnapped the baby for monetary gain as she has been facing financial difficulties for a while.