Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The discovery of children’s bones near a Christian hospital in northern India has led to accusations of illegal abortion against the clinic. The (Anglican) Church of North India which runs the clinic denies this and says fundamentalist Hindus are behind hyping up the scandal.
The charges have been levelled at the Mission Hospital of Ratlam, west of Bhopal, in the State of Madhya Pradesh. On 17 February, police said they found 396 bones of children buried behind the hospital. The Superintendent of Police Satish Saxena said the search was made following a tip off that the hospital was conducting illegal abortions. According to initial reports, the skeletons found were not intact and it is difficult to ascertain the age. However it is being assumed that they are of newborns or of aborted foetuses. "Our officials will send the remains for forensic tests. Only after the tests will we come to know of the exact findings," Saxena said.
Saxena said the hospital staff told investigating officers that a sweeper, entrusted with disposing of bio-medical waste, was responsible for burying the human remains near the clinic. A crowd of angry people attempted to barge into the hospital but was stopped by police.
The Anglican Bishop of the Church of North India, Laxman L Maida, said the episode was a “false scandal blown out of proportion by the media and extremists”. He told AsiaNews: “The Mission Hospital in Ratlam has honestly served the neediest people irrespective of creed for 100 years.” Maida claimed that the polythene bag with the remains was due to “negligence of the sweeper and not illegal procedures of the hospital”. This was, he said, an “anti-Christian conspiracy against missionaries and their services”.
According to another version, the Bajrang Dal movement – the youth wing of the fundamentalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – accused the Mission Hospital of illegal abortions and of hiding the foetuses.
The hospital denied this and explained that the bones belonged to some stillborn babies whose bodies were abandoned by their parents. The Bajrang Dal activists started shouting provocative slogans against the hospital and some exaggerated the number of bones found to cause more commotion and to strengthen their accusations.