The harrowing last moments of baby Salileen Ramsaroop’s life, after she was fed poison by a female relative, tugged at the hearts of mourners yesterday, as her great aunt vehemently denied she was abandoned by her father Sunil Ramlal.
Speaking at the baby’s funeral at Boodoo’s Funeral Chapel in Penal, Salileen’s father Sunil wept as he watched her tiny body encased in the coffin.
Maternal relatives of the baby did not attend the funeral service.
But while the father shared no words of comfort or condemnation for the woman who took his daughter’s life, Sunil’s aunt Savitri Deochan came to his defence, saying he had been accused wrongfully of abandoning his family.
Inviting mourners to imagine the last moments of Salileen’s life, Deochan said instead of judging the baby’s parents, people should let justice take its course.
“It is really sad to see a baby on a table with her mouth open, a lifeless body and helpless, that is a sad thing. Our grief and sadness...To look at a baby lying in a coffin. She didn’t get a chance. When that Malathion (insecticide) went down her throat ... Just picture it,” she said, as mourners wept.
Deochan also pointed to the brothers of baby Salileen, saying: “When you look at these two little boys, (name called) in police station lock-up “
She said they could not protect the boys from the terrible tragedy.
“We could not hide it from them, they had questions from home, from forensics and homicide. What we go do?” she added.
Saying she was following social media and had seen the questions posed by the public, Deochan said: “People asking where was the father. The big question is was he present? Yes, he is very present. He may not be 100 per cent perfect but he is a good father. Maybe his words are few but he is not bad. We had many negative comments. This dad never abandoned the children. This mom left him many times. He had a lot to face.”
She also claimed the child was never COVID-positive.
“I hold the medical certificate and it has nothing pertaining to COVID,” she added.
Deochan explained that the baby had mental challenges and had been hospitalised for three weeks. She said after the baby was discharged, she was taken away from the father.
Meanwhile, relative Makeesha Jugoon, who delivered a brief eulogy, said baby Salileen was in a better place.
“It is truly heartbreaking that Salileen died before getting a chance to live,” she said.
Family friend Earlon La Foucade also called on the public not to judge.
“I pray that whatever the cause, Almighty God comforts this family, especially the father and mother. We cannot judge. We do not know what the circumstances may be. Only God knows what took place,” he said.
Following the funeral service, the baby was laid to rest at the Batchya Cemetery.
Baby Salileen was declared dead at the Princes Town Hospital last week. A nurse contacted the police around 3.15 pm on September 21 after the baby was taken into the facility unresponsive.
When police arrived, a female relative told them she was at her parents’ New Grant home with the baby and a ten-year-old boy when the baby began to cry uncontrollably. She said she became frustrated and fed the baby Malathion insecticide using a syringe.
Police recovered a syringe, a baby bottle and a 250ml bottle with the markings “Malathion” at the woman’s home.
Forensic pathologist Dr Somu Gajula gave the cause of death as pulmonary oedema, pending a toxicology report.
Pulmonary oedema is a condition caused by too much fluid in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult.
Police have since submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Charges are expected to be laid.