Kolkata: It’s a common ritual in India to have Eunuchs or hijras bless childbirths, weddings, and other auspicious occasions. In the absence of employment opportunities, eunuchs are forced to make a living by dancing and singing at houses where kids are born, and are often accused of extortion.

In one such case which turned tragic, a one-and-a-half month-old baby died allegedly after a group of eunuchs snatched him from the mother’s lap and started dancing, in Jhargram of West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Friday.

On Friday morning, the three eunuchs reached the house of Chandan Khiladi, a resident of Uttar Shilda, and said that they want to dance with the twin babies. One of them, however, had complications in his heart for which it was earlier admitted at the Jhargram Superspecialty Hospital and released about three weeks back.

First, they demanded Rs 11,000 from the family and after being refused, the three started abusing the family.

They then snatched the boy from his mother’s lap and started dancing with the newborn. The family, objected, saying the child was unwell but paying no heed to them, the eunuchs went ahead with their dance. The family then agreed to pay them Rs 2,000.

However, the child soon developed breathing problems and was rushed to the local primary health centre, where it was declared dead.

In the meantime, locals gathered near Khiladi’s house and stopped the three eunuchs from fleeing. They were arrested following a complaint lodged by the child’s parents in Binpur police station. Further investigations are underway, a senior police officer said.