I am still reeling from the implausibly stunning fact of a baby slipping out of a womb into a dustbin. Finding the words to write this was not easy. But it is important for Soni Baghel’s story to be public, so that the Maharani College in Jagdalpur- in whose care almost all of Bastar’s tribals who travel hundreds of kilometres and entrust their lives; will be put on notice; and ensure that as overburdened they might be, their medical staff don’t treat other expecting mothers and their babies with the same fatal disregard that Soni has to live with for the rest of her life.
The day I met Soni at her home in Billori, in Chhatisgarh’s Jagdalpur district, and the main city in the state’s violence hit tribal region of Bastar, the sun was out and a cool breeze had her entire family sitting outside. Her two young children were clamouring around her as she cleaned rice for the afternoon meal. Her mother in law, who speaks no Hindi, smiled at us widely and curiously, and Champa Kashyap, her “Mitanin” or community health worker was chatting with Soni’s husband, Kadiram who has filed a police complaint accusing the Maharani Medical college of negligence.
For the moment, Life goes on for the entire Baghel family, without her youngest daughter, and without justice.