Police say a man in northern India digging a grave for his daughter on Thursday evening found a baby buried alive in a nearby pot.
Hitesh Kumar Sirohi took his daughter to be buried near a cremation ground in Bareilly after his wife, Vaishali, gave birth to a stillborn child Thursday morning.
As an employee began digging a grave for her, they were shocked to hear crying coming from an earthen pot that his shovel hit.
“When he noticed a newborn girl inside it, he immediately rescued her and dialled… for help,” local police in Uttar Pradesh told Agence-France Presse.
“We are now trying to find the parents of the baby,” officials said in a statement. “We will take strict action against those who have buried the infant alive.”
Sirohi told the Times of India he found the baby girl crying and wrapped in cloth inside the pot.
“At one point, I thought that my daughter had come alive,” he told the publication. “But the voice was actually coming from the pot.”
Sirohi fed her milk through a cloth before calling an ambulance, the Telegraph reports.
The baby was born prematurely at 2.4 pounds, doctors told the Times of India, and is being treated for a lung infection.
Doctors added that the baby, who is on oxygen, may have survived so long because prematurely born children don’t need as much oxygen.
“It’s possible she was buried just a few hours ago,” they said, adding that she’s expected to make a full recovery.
Police officials have launched an investigation into the incident, which the Telegraph reports is believed to be an attempted female infanticide.
Female infanticide is a widespread problem in India due to parents’ preference for sons for financial reasons. A 2017 government census found that the state of Uttar Pradesh has 1,000 men for every 862 women in rural areas, according to the Telegraph.
In January, a three-week-old baby girl was buried alive in Rajasthan. She was discovered in a similar fashion after someone heard her crying in a shallow grave.
She died a few weeks later in hospital after being treated.