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Indian woman delivers, abandons baby in plane toilet

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • NEW: Toilet taken to hospital with baby in it
  • Newborn in critical condition at a hospital
  • Mother admitted to the same hospital
  • Abandoning newborns punishable by up to seven years in prison
  • Amritsar
  • India

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- An unmarried Indian woman delivered a baby in the toilet of an international flight and abandoned the infant in the plane's washroom, police and doctors said Thursday.

Cabin crew of the Turkmenistan Airlines rushed the newborn to a hospital as the plane arrived in the northern Indian city of Amritsar on Wednesday, said Varinder Kumar, city police commissioner.

The toilet was taken to the hospital with the baby, and surgeons had to cut it away to get the newborn out, said H.P. Singh, a doctor at Amritsar's Fortis Escorts hospital.

The baby's condition was critical, Singh said, and it might take at least two to three days to recover. The mother admitted to the same hospital was, however, stable, he said.

"She was unmarried. It looks like she wanted to get rid of the baby," Singh said.

Police confirmed she was single and plan to question her once she was declared medically fit.

Abandoning newborns is an offense punishable up to seven years in jail, Kumar said.

"We will see what action can be taken (against her) after the interrogation," he said.

The mother, believed to be age 25, belongs to Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, according to police. Her flight had originated from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, Kumar said.

In largely-conservative India, pre-marital sex remains a taboo.

Last year, India's federal woman rights watchdog ordered an investigation into reports young would-be-brides were subject to "virginity tests" for a mass wedding.

The alleged tests in June last year happened in Madhya Pradesh state controlled by conservative Hindu nationalists who are members of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

But a district magistrate said they were simply "clinical examinations" initiated after one of the brides gave birth at a previous similar event.

Earlier this year, India's top court ruled live-in relationships between adult couples are not a crime.

The supreme court also quashed more than 20 cases against a south Indian actress for her comments on pre-marital sex in 2005, which had sparked angry protests.

Actress Khushboo, who uses one name, said her remarks aimed to highlight precautions that partners should take in order to prevent AIDS.

More than half of India's billion-plus population is below age 25, officials say.

With rapid modernization and a growing economy, the country's young work force has grown over the past few years.

But marriages remain a venerated custom in India.