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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Andhra baby girl buried by grandfather found alive

HYDERABAD (Reuters) - A two-day-old baby girl was found alive in a grave in southern India on Thursday, after she had been buried by her grandfather who did not want to bear the cost of bringing up a girl, authorities said.

Female infanticide and foeticide, though illegal in India, are still frequent in some rural areas as boys are traditionally preferred to girls as breadwinners, and families have to pay huge dowries to marry off their daughters.

Police said they had arrested 52-year-old Abdul Rahman, a village farmer from Andhra Pradesh state, after he confessed to trying to kill his newly born granddaughter by burying her.

"I am yet to marry off four daughters and cannot take responsibility for a fifth one, even when she is only a granddaughter," the police quoted Rahman, who is from a village in Mahbubnagar district, as saying.

Mahbubnagar is a four hours drive from the state capital, Hyderabad.

Authorities said Rahman had been upset his daughter had given birth to a girl and had grabbed the child from her mother and taken her away.

Concerned by his behaviour, the family as well as neighbours began a search for the child.

"We searched the place and found a fresh grave and dug it up to find the baby wrapped in a thick cloth and rushed it to hospital," said Sheikh Wasim, a neighbour.

Authorities said the child was out of danger, but remained in intensive care.

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

In May, police in the western state of Gujarat arrested a man for allegedly killing his 6-day-old twin daughters by burying them alive.

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