Story Highlights• Indian police find plastic bag stuffed with bones of newborn babies
• Remains were found in ditch near hospital in town of Ratlam
• Fears that bones could be from illegal sex-selection abortions
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BHOPAL, India (CNN) -- Police announced they uncovered a plastic bag stuffed with the skeletal remains of at least six newborns Sunday after searching the grounds of a Christian missionary hospital in the central Indian town of Ratlam.
Director General of Police A.R. Pavar said they found the remains hidden in a drainage ditch on the hospital's property in Ratlam after scouring the grounds following a tip off from a local.
All 390 bone fragments are thought to be from newly born babies and fetuses, but Pavar said an investigation will offer more information. (Watch men remove the tiny bodies )
Ratlam's superintendent of police, Satish Saxena said it was not immediately clear whether the hospital was disposing of bones properly.
"They may not have buried the dead bodies of the newborn at a graveyard where they should have been," he said, adding also that the bones may not have been properly incinerated.
Bishop L. Maida, the senior official who represents the church that runs the hospital, told CNN the hospital is more than a century old and nothing like this has happened before.
If a woman has a miscarriage she pays the hospital to dispose of the remains and perhaps that is what the bones are from, Maida said.
"After an investigation we may be able to say something more on this case," he said.
It is not known how old the bones are, what sex they are of how long they have been in the drain.
Police in Ratlam have sent the remains to a government laboratory for forensic tests. The forensic results could take anywhere between one week and one month.
The sex of the bones is particularly important, given India's history of practicing feticide and infanticide since their culture prizes baby boys over baby girls.
Sex selection abortion -- or feticide -- was outlawed in 1994 and any case of infanticide would be characterized as homicide, but the deliberate killings of fetuses and infants is still practiced.
Pavar said they are taking that into account.
"We are investigating if these children were stillborn of if this was a case of female infanticide," he said.
Maida said to the best of his knowledge those practices have never happened at the small town Christian hospital located about 140 west of the state capital of Bhopal.
Last December the Indian government estimated that more than 10 million girls have been killed by their parents in the past 20 years either before their birth or immediately afterwards. The number includes deaths counted before sex selection abortions were outlawed in 1994.
In China, too the preference for boy babies is customary. The practice of female feticide and infanticide is outlawed as in India, but what magnifies the problem in China is the government limitations on the number of children per household, thus making it even more important to have a boy.
The boy preference in both countries is typically tied to the view that men are breadwinners and women are a financial liabilities, since families pay out large sums of money in dowries for their marriages.
In some parts of India the sex ratio has been so skewed that men have complained it is difficult to marry.
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