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Indian police find bags of babies' bones

  • Story Highlights
  • 30 bags stuffed with bones of female foetuses and babies found in dry well
  • Police suspect body parts dumped after birth or abortion at nearby clinic
  • Government says around 10 million girls killed by parents over past 20 years
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BHUBANESHWAR, India (Reuters) -- Thirty polythene bags stuffed with the body parts of female foetuses and newly born babies have been found in a dry well near a private clinic in the east Indian state of Orissa, police said on Monday.

Police suspect the body parts -- mainly skulls and bones -- were dumped in the well shortly after birth or abortion at the clinic in Nayagarh district, 90 km (55 miles) southwest of the state capital, Bhubaneshwar.

The manager of the clinic has been arrested.

"Prima facia seems to indicate female foeticide, but we can't be sure until forensic examinations are conducted," said B.K. Sharma, Orissa's crime branch inspector-general of police.

Despite laws banning sex-determination tests, the killing of female foetuses is still common in India, where the preference for sons runs deep. Infanticide is also practiced in some areas.

Boys are traditionally preferred to girls as breadwinners and because families have to pay huge dowries to marry off daughters.

Police said they searched the well after seven female foetuses, also packed into polythene bags, were found dumped in a deserted area in a nearby village a week ago.

Officials said they believed the two cases were linked and are part of an organized racket involved in female foeticide.

The government says around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents -- either before or immediately after birth -- over the past 20 years.

Last month, a doctor was arrested on suspicion of illegally aborting 260 female foetuses after police recovered bones from the septic tank in the basement of his maternity clinic in the outskirts of New Delhi. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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