None of the 53 CCTV cameras at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital was in use when a baby was stolen on August 21.
The server station for the cameras remained shut for almost 12 hours from around 9:00pm on August 20, according to hospital employees. And the baby has been missing since around 7:30am on August 21.
Since its instalment in 2009, this was the first time the surveillance system went down.
The Power Development Board officials posted at the country's premier public hospital yesterday told The Daily Star that the electricity supply to the server station was disconnected because of a short-circuit.
It took an hour from around 9:00am on August 21 to find out the short-circuit, said one of the officials. “Most possibly, a rat gnawed at a power cable.”
The office of DMCH Director Brig Gen Mustafizur Rahman houses the server station. The electrical short-circuit was detected just above its ceiling.
Usually, a rat nibbling at a cable gets electrocuted and smell of dead rat indicates an electrical short-circuit, officials added, claiming that a horrible odour had filled the air in the hospital's director's room lately.
Asked exactly when the server station had gone down, the director avoided a direct reply. He just said the CCTV operation was restored by around 9:30am on August 21.
The PDB officials, relatives of the victim, and a number of patients said there had been no power outage in the hospital in those two days; even the director's room had electricity. Only the CCTV network was hit with power failure.
Kawsar Hossain Babu, father of the stolen baby, believes the CCTV cameras were switched off as part of a “master plan”, involving insiders.
His wife Ranu gave birth to twin baby boys around 5:00am on August 20. A woman posing as an attendant of an imaginary patient offered her services to Ranu as the new mother was having difficulty nursing the twins.
A CCTV clip shows the woman -- holding one of the babies in her arms -- along with the baby's grandmother at the emergency around noon on August 20.
This footage, about 10-12 seconds in length, is one of the two clips supplied to the police official investigating the case. The other one is of 15-20 seconds.
It takes no more than 10 minutes to walk from the newborn baby ward on the first floor to the emergency section on the ground floor. The path is covered by more than five CCTV cameras.
According to the family, the woman disappeared with one of the infants around 7:30am August 21.
There were about eight possible exit routes for her. The shortest way is near gate No 2. Using it, one can walk out of the hospital in about two minutes. This path is covered by two surveillance cameras.
All the other escape routes too are watched over with cameras.
Sub-Inspector Ferdous Alam, the investigator, said they were raiding different places in Tongi and Ashulia early hours today to arrest a woman identified by Ranu as the imposter.
“We have also collected the cell phone number of the suspect from a hospital guard. The woman has been changing her location from Tongi to Ashulia to Mirpur,” he added.
Talking to journalists at his office around noon yesterday, DMCH Director Brig Gen Mustafizur Rahman blamed the parents for the theft as they allowed a stranger to take care of the newborn.
He, however, admitted that three newborns were lost from the hospital in the last two years.
Quoting an unidentified policeman and without giving any specific reference, he said that at least in one case the impoverished parents had sold their baby.