Indian Baby
Indian babyFlickr/ Creative Commons

A 22-year-old mother in Odisha's Jajpur district has allegedly sold her 17-month-old son for ₹5000 last month to meet legal expenses of her imprisoned husband.

After investigating the matter police revealed on Wednesday that the mother, Rakhi Patra from Mundamala village, used the money to buy a phone and a pair of jeans.

The investigation into the sale of the toddler was carried out after a division bench of Orissa High Court took suo moto notice of media reports and ordered the police to recover the baby and hand him over to his mother.

"Rakhi Patra of Mundamala village who sold her 17 month-old son for Rs 5,000 purchased a new mobile phone, a pair of jeans, few new tops (to go with the jeans) and memory cards for her mobile with the money," Press Trust of India quoted Jajpur superintendent of police Deepak Kumar as saying.

In Septemeber, there were reports that Rakhi sold her baby boy to Babuli Behera and his wife from Gurujanga village near Tangi, Cuttack. Dharanidhar Mallick, a rickshaw puller, mediated in the sale of the child, OIC (Japur Road police station) Ashwini Kumar Sahoo said.

After selling the infant, Rakhi paid ₹500 to the lawyer to get her husband released from the jail. She used the remaining money to buy a shirt and a pant for her husband, as well as a mobile phone for herself to keep in touch with him , according to police.

Kanak Patra, Rakhi's mother-in-law, had earlier filed an FIR at Jajpur Road police station stating that her daughter-in-law sold her grandson in Cuttack.

"I was forced to sell my son as I need Rs 5,000 to release my husband from jail," Rakhi told TOI

Superintendent of police Deepak Kumar rejected Rakhi's claim and said that the new purchase of a mobile and jeans served as evidence of the fact that she did not sell her son due to poverty.

Kumar said the mother later confessed to police that she brought all the things from the money she got after selling her baby, adding that the items were later seized from her.

On Tuesday evening, police handed over the baby to Rakhi, who is now living in a state-run stay home in Jajpur.

Rakhi and her husband, Manoj Patra, were working as a daily wage labourers near the industrial hub at Kalinganagar in Jajpur district. Police arrested Manoj two months ago in a theft case.