Dharmapuri illegal sex determination racket signals a nexus, say police

On Saturday morning, a special police team surrounded the house of Venkatesan, an auto-driver, where six pregnant women had assembled for illegal sonogram to determine the sex of fetuses.

Among the clients were a few first-time expectant mothers, way younger, from different parts of Dharmapuri, said an official part of the operation.

The arrested included Satish Kumar, Jyothi and Sudhakar, brokers from Thirupathur district; Kumar and Sarita, the brokers ‘covering’ Dharmapuri and Paaparapatti in Dharmapuri; and Karpagam, a former nurse; and Venkatesan. 

The crackdown came on the heels of a botched illegal abortion of a 27-year-old Krishnagiri woman and her admission in a critical condition to the Krishnagiri government medical college hospital. The admission report revealed that the patient Vanaja, a mother of two girls, went through illegal sex determination and abortion at the hands of Karpagam. She said she was accosted by a woman in a bus, who offered to take her to someone to find out the sex of the fetus. She was given a contact number. She was then asked to reach Dharmapuri, from where she was taken in a car blindfolded to an unknown location for sex determination and later for abortion on May 13. 

According to a police source, on that day, Karpagam, who only handled the illegal sonogram, however decided to carry out the abortion without any equipment in a farm at her village.   “According to Karpagam, Vanaja was desperate to abort the fetus the same day. Karpagam agreed to do so for more money,” said the source. The fetus was dismembered and Vanaja was sent back in a critical condition. This unraveled the well-organised network.

The police went after the call records of the number that was switched off, leading them to Karpagam. “Karpagam only handled the scan equipment. She said she was not allowed to contact the others. So we waited for Sathish Kumar, the main accused, to contact her,” says the official. The house of Venkatesan, whose wife was out of town, was fixed.  

Sathish Kumar owned a sophisticated scan machine that cost ₹2.5 lakh and decided on the days when it was available between Dharmapuri and Thirupathur.  The scan equipment ran on a tight schedule, travelling between Thirupathur and Dharmapuri on alternate days, the police said. 

The brokers would scout for pregnant women desperate for male heirs around hospitals and scan centers. While targets were women with repeat pregnancies, often first-time expectant mothers, too, want only a male child. Sudhakar was the courier, riding with the machine on his two-wheeler from Thirupathur to avoid interception. After a recce of the designated location, the car with the expectant mother/s would follow.  The spot is often changed to be fool-proof, only condition being it was secluded and private, the police said. 

Each illegal sex determination cost ₹6,000 and every alternate day, an average of 7 to 8 women were brought by the brokers for sex-determination.  The amount is shared among all of them, the police said. 

According to the source, Sathish Kumar was the driver of Sukumar, a Thirupathur-based radiologist, who was arrested recently for pre-natal sex determination. Sathish Kumar had branched out, purchased his own machine and organised his own racket.  The racket is only the tip of an iceberg, given the spread of the network across Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Thirupattur. 

On Saturday night, cases were registered under Sections 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, read with 15(2) of the Indian Medical Council Act.

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Printable version | May 29, 2022 1:09:32 am |