The couple were at the cemetery in northern India to bury their baby, who died minutes after birth.

As they dug a small grave for their child, their spade struck something hard. It was a clay pot and, from inside, they could hear an infant crying. That, local police say, is when the villagers discovered a newborn, buried alive.

She was no more than two or three days old, according to police in the state of Uttar Pradesh, who were quickly summoned to the cemetery on Oct. 10 and took the newborn to a hospital. The infant had respiratory problems and was put on a ventilator, said Alka Sgarna, the medical superintendent who treated her and spoke to CNN. The baby also had an infection and was underweight.

“We are looking for her parents, and it is possible that they are involved in it,” police superintendent Abhinandan Singh said at a briefing. “Such an act is difficult without their involvement. We have deployed police teams, even in civil dress, to trace the suspects.”

He vowed that authorities “will take strict action against the culprits.”

Investigating officer Pradeep Kumar Singh told The Washington Post on Tuesday that he knows of no witnesses and noted that the cemetery is in a rural area and has no closed-circuit monitors. Authorities have charged the unknown perpetrators with attempted murder and the abandonment of a child.

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India’s population has a significant gender imbalance as a result of a societal preference for sons, according to a government economic survey spanning 2017-2018. Abortions of female fetuses are prevalent, according to the report, and even when such sex-selection methods are not used, families will often continue trying to have children until they have a son, resulting in millions of “unwanted” girls.

An estimated 63 million women are “missing” in India, according to the report, because of sex-selection practices.

Some infant girls, like the one found in the Uttar Pradesh cemetery, are abandoned or killed because of their sex.

It has been four days since the baby girl was discovered, Singh said, and no one has claimed her.

Dutta reported from Delhi, India.

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