On a humid June evening, near a majestic church in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh, a deal was struck. For Rs 30,000 a poor mother sold her ten-month-old son to a couple who didn't have a child. The deal was signed on a Rs 10 bond paper. The fine print gave the mother, 25-year- old Yessama, the right to take back her baby if she changed her mind. But she would have to pay Rs 1.5 lakhs as a penalty for breach of contract.
That was on June 28. A fortnight later, the "buyers" were visited by a woman named Yashoda, who had brokered the transaction. She demanded more money on behalf of the mother for the baby. Arguments and a fight broke out, so the carefully inked deal became public.
Local MP and former actress Vijayashanti blamed the local authorities for a baby being sold. The state government got involved. The Women and Child Welfare Department had the baby moved to the government-run Shishu Vihar on Tuesday evening. Both sets of parents are being counselled. As of now, the mother is being allowed access to the baby.
The police has not registered a case. Medak district Project director under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme Sailaja told NDTV that both the couples involved are labourers with severe economic constraints. The mother who sold the baby has another son. Making ends meet was tough.
The couple who took the baby from her had tried to follow the legal route for adoption but found the process too complicated and lengthy. So they decided to "buy" a baby even though that meant selling the small piece of land they owned.
Kaudpall, where this incident took place, has miserably health care, virtually no economic development, even though it is just 100 kms from the IT-mecca of Hyderabad. Tribal hamlets called Tandas are in remote areas and child marriages are common. As a direct result of being married so young, women have a record of serious health complications - huge number of hysterectomies are performed here.