The child was rescued from Muzaffarpur and produced before the Lajpat Nagar Child Welfare Committee

The interim custody of the three-year-old daughter of Munni Khatoon, who was rescued by the Delhi Police from Muzaffarpur in Bihar two days ago, has been granted to her by the Lajpat Nagar Child Welfare Committee. The young woman is yet to meet her younger daughter who is battling for life at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences' Trauma Centre.

Munni and her elder daughter were produced before the CWC on Tuesday. The police informed the committee that the child was rescued from Muzaffarpur.

Investigations have revealed that main accused Lakshmi had introduced Munni to her daughter Roshni, who also lived in Muzaffarpur. After the accused convinced Munni to come to Delhi, she asked her to leave her elder daughter with Roshni, who was already taking care of a child her age. Accordingly the victim had handed over the girl to Roshini and came to the Capital along with her five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

At Lakshmi's instance, the police conducted raids in Muzaffarpur and rescued the child on Sunday. However, Roshni vanished from the scene.

The girl was brought to Delhi and kept at a shelter-home in Safdarjung Enclave. Munni, who was earlier traced to Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, was produced before a Saket court that sent her to Nari Niketan. In its order, CWC allowed her to have interim custody of the child and directed the Nari Niketan authorities to make appropriate arrangements for the same.

The CWC also noted that the accused involved in the case had sold off Munni to the person to whom she was married last September. They kept her groom in dark over her background, that she was already married and had three children, and allegedly extorted about Rs.3 lakh from him for providing a young bride to him.

The police have so far arrested Lakshmi and her accomplice Kanta Choudhry. Investigations have revealed that Kanta was previously booked in five similar cases in Rajasthan: two each in Behror and Kotputli, and one in Bansoor. While they are trying to ascertain her other suspected involvements, they suspect that the accused had been operating for the past several years.

Trailing the human trafficking chain, the police have come across evidence to suggest that Lakshmi is the main accused and one Saroj, who is on the run, was the common link between her and Kanta. Initially, the three allegedly conspired with their accomplices to force Munni into prostitution, failing which they convinced her to get married. Also, Lakshmi allegedly advised Munni to decamp with the valuables from her husband's house. “However, she chose to stay and still wants to live with him,” said an officer.

The police have launched a hunt for one Guddu, to whom Lakshmi had allegedly handed over Munni's son. They are also on the lookout for two other accused, Manoj and Pratima.

It is learnt that the police have detained two men in connection with the sexual abuse of the 14-year-old girl who had admitted the baby at Trauma Centre.

Baby still critical

Meanwhile, the baby continues to be critical with no signs of improvement.

“The child continues to be very critical and her condition is the same as on Monday. She is critical but stable. She has not been able to breathe on her own and that is why she is being maintained on a ventilator. Her chest and brain infection are yet to clear up, though her blood infection seems to be subsiding,” said AIIMS Trauma Centre's neurosurgeon Dr. Deeepak Agarwal.

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