The father of three-month-old Afreen, who is battling for life in a hospital here, confessed to the police that he tried to kill the child because he “wanted a boy and not a girl”.

Umar Farook (25), who was arrested on Sunday evening after the condition of his daughter Afreen hit the headlines, also confessed to having attempted to murder her on several earlier occasions, said the police.

Meanwhile, Afreen continues to be in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Vani Vilas Hospital. “The child is on ventilator and life support medicines. She is having convulsions and is being treated for it, under sedation, round the clock,” said Gangadhar Belvadi, Professor and Head of the Department of Paediatrics at Vani Vilas Hospital. Ophthalmological tests have revealed a bilateral retinal haemorrhage, he added. The gruesome case is reminiscent of the torture and abandonment of the baby, Falak, in Delhi recently. Afreen was brought to the hospital on Sunday with a severe head injury and deep bite marks on the thigh and buttocks. She is in a coma. Scans revealed that the child had bleeding on the outer surface of the brain (haemorrhage). The mother, Reshma Bhanu (19), had accused her husband of causing the injuries.

The police dismissed reports that questioned the mental state of Farook. A police official in the K.G. Halli police station, where the father is currently lodged, said that he was “mentally stable” and had made up his mind to kill his daughter since her birth. He had on a previous occasion tried to suffocate her by forcing a cloth down her throat.

Ms. Bhanu, who said that the child and she herself had suffered abuse at the hands of her husband, said he had been assaulting the child for the past three months.

Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Bhanu said that the family had already spent over Rs. 30,000 on the child's treatment and was fast running out of money. “I don't know what to do if more money is required. We have even pawned the gold we had kept aside for my sister,” she said. The arrest of her husband is of no solace to her at the moment. “Right now, I want my child to survive,” she said.

Nina P. Nayak, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, visited the hospital on Monday.

‘Shocking'

PTI reports:

In New Delhi, Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights described the incident as “shocking” and said an inquiry will be conducted.

“Really, it's shocking, alarming... the man has to be booked for attempting to murder the child,” Ms. Sinha said. “We will certainly call for an inquiry... but I think somewhere the government has to keep a watch on every girl born.”

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