One DNA test has turned the life of two families in Assam on its head. And caught in the middle is a three-year-old boy who was switched at birth.
On May 5, 2019, Nazma Khanam, the wife of Abdul Motin Hussain, was admitted to the Farkaruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College in Barpeta to deliver her baby. As per her husband, their baby was born three days later in the evening hours.
“Two hours after the delivery, my wife developed some complications and was shifted to the ICU. We were not allowed to see her nor did the ICU staff share any information,” said Hussain, who retired from the CRPF.
The couple received devastating news the next morning when a staff member from the neonatal ICU informed them that their child had passed away.
“I contested the information as I was pretty sure that it couldn’t be true. The baby was healthy and had no complications. My wife had complications, not the newborn,” said Hussain.
The baby’s body shown to the couple also triggered doubts. “I told them that my baby was smaller and thinner than the (dead body) they showed to me. The hospital staff said that after death, the body gets bigger in size. I asked for the baby’s documents and they asked me to accept the dead baby and that the rest can follow,” said Hussain.
But instead of medical documents, the hospital reportedly gave him the baby’s death certificate. “Besides, the file mentioned the baby as ‘out born’, while my baby was born in the hospital. They said it was an error and changed the status to ‘in born’. I also got to know that when my wife was admitted to the hospital, another lady by the same name was there as well.”
Hussain’s wife is Nazma Khanam, while the other woman admitted was Nazma Khatun. Sensing what might have transpired, Hussain filed an RTI seeking related documents. At first he was told that those details are “confidential” but an appeal forced the hospital to give up the information.
Three months later, Hussain filed a case alleging that his baby had been mistakenly switched at birth in the hospital. He sought a DNA test on the baby handed over to Nazma Khatun and her husband Sahidul Ali who hail from Gosaingaon.
But Nazma and Hussain’s anguished wait got longer with the Covid-19 pandemic slowing down the legal system along with everything else. Offers investigating the case were also changed. In the meantime, the DNA report was out but judgment was pending in the case.
Finally, on June 9, 2022, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barpeta, after reviewing the DNA report, found in favour of Hussain and his wife and ordered that the child should be entrusted to them.
Sahidul Ali, an electric rickshaw puller, has refused to accept the DNA report and has appealed to the CM for help. “This boy is mine and I can prove it with all the required documents. He has been with us since birth. I had agreed for the DNA test as I was convinced the truth shall prevail. This man (Hussain) has been after my boy for the last three years. I am poor a person. I beg Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to give me my boy back,” said Ali.
The Hussain family said it bears no ill-will towards Ali. They are now planning to have a christening ceremony for the boy and have initiated the process to get a birth certificate for school admission.
“I don’t blame the father who cared for my son for the last three years nor the doctors of the hospital. The registrar should have been careful. A proper record of the newborn should be maintained so that incidents like these are not repeated ever,” said Hussain.