Baby Falak who died of a heart attack cremated by her mother

Baby Falak who died of a heart attack cremated by her mother
New Delhi Baby Falak was buried in Delhi today by her mother, Munni. The two-year-old died in Delhi's AIIMS hospital last night after a heart attack, her third in the two months that she spent there. Doctors at the hospital, where Falak went through multiple surgeries, had handed her over to her mother, Munni.

"Her mother had come over and was handed over the body at around 4.30 PM. They then left the premises for the cremation," Deepak Agrawal, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at
the AIIMS Trauma Centre, who has been attending on Falak from the day she was admitted there, said.

Falak was being monitored by the Child Welfare Committee, and the officials had asked for an inquiry on her death. That could take till tomorrow to complete.

Falak was introduced to India under circumstances that made the country sick with anger. She was brought to AIIMS by a young teen who had been looking after her. Her face had been bitten, her head had repeatedly been smashed into a wall, and her chest showed burn marks from a hot clothes iron. The nurses who tended to her at the Intensive Care Unit named her Falak meaning "the sky." In recent weeks, doctors had said Falak was showing healthy signs of recovery and was strong enough to leave hospital. But because nobody requested them for her custody, she was moved to the general ward. Yesterday, her heart beat fluctuated all day. Then last evening, she had a heart attack. "It happened all of a sudden. She was sleeping in her bed when the cardiac arrest occurred," Dr Agrawal said.

Two earlier cardiac arrests had weakened her heart greatly. For 40 minutes, doctors tried to revive her. Finally, they gave up. "Since hers (Falak) was a medico-legal case, a post-morterm was conducted. The cardiac arrest happened due to due cardiac arrhythmia, a disorder of the heart rate when the heart beats too quickly," he said.

Till Falak met the doctors and nurses who devoted their days and nights to her, the baby had known only a world of unimaginable neglect and horror. Her mother's story is one that shames India repeatedly - she couldn't afford to look after her three children. So after being passed from one disinterested adult to another, Falak's last few weeks before being admitted to hospital were with a teen living with a married man. The young girl abused her after the man she had eloped with took off to see his wife and children.

A long police search located Falak's mother, named Munni, in Rajasthan. Munni originally lived in Bihar with her husband and three children, including Falak. Then her husband left her. Munni was lured to Delhi by a gang who trafficked sex workers. She refused to prostitute herself, so the women in the gang arranged a marriage for her to a man in Rajasthan. They brokered the deal, unknown to Munni, for two lakhs. They said she should leave her children behind, and that once she settled into her new life, her husband would be persuaded to accept them. The women then divided up the children. Falak's sister was sent home to Bihar. Her brother is five-years-old. And Falak was passed from one adult to another, all known to the gang of traffickers, till she ended up with the teen who brought her to AIIMS.

Falak's mother visited her once in hospital. She broke down after she saw her baby. She has been staying at a shelter for women run by an NGO.

The Child Welfare Committee was to decide whose custody Falak would be placed in once she left AIIMS.
Story First Published: March 16, 2012 11:02 IST

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