Another baby trafficking racket busted in Bengal

: In yet another case of an inter-State racket in newborn trafficking in Bengal, the police rescued 10 newborn babies after raiding an old age home in the Thakurpukur area on the southern fringes of Kolkata.

The State’s CID raided the old age home late on Thursday night.

The officials said that a “huge racket of newborn trafficking is suspected” in Bengal and other States. On Tuesday, three newborns were rescued from a health clinic in the North 24 Paraganas district, while skeletal remains of two newborns were recovered on Friday from the same district. So far, 15 persons have been arrested.

“After receiving information from those arrested earlier in the case we raided the old age home called Purbasha late on Thursday night and rescued 10 newborn girls,” Additional Director General [ADG] of CID Rajesh Kumar said on Friday.

‘One to 10 months old’

He also said that two women, including the head of an old age home, were arrested. According to CID officials, these newborns are in the age group of “one to 10 months”.

They said that it was very likely that several other newborns were trafficked from the old age home till now. “We think about 50 newborns have been trafficked by this racket so far,” the ADG said.

While the CID is yet to ascertain specific linkages of the racket to other States, a senior official said that the arrests indicate the State has “multiple small to big newborn trafficking rackets.” The development comes a day after the CID raided a nursing home in the city’s College Street area and arrested the owner along with a doctor.

“During interrogation, they told us about the old age home,” said Mr. Kumar.

Foreign currencies

The CID officials are also not ruling out the possibility of an “international racket” since foreign currencies were recovered from the nursing home. “We have seized Rs. 15,000 cash along with US dollars, euros and Hong Kong dollars from the nursing home,” said Mr. Kumar.

Meanwhile, the CID recovered the skeletal remains of two newborns from the compound of an NGO, Sujit Memorial Trust, which was allegedly associated with newborn trafficking along with a health clinic in the North 24 Paraganas district. The CID officials said that after the post-mortem reports of the two newborns, whose remains were found from the NGO’s premises, charges of homicide are “likely” to be slapped on the accused.

‘Absence of monitoring’

Speaking to The Hindu, former chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Asokendu Sengupta said that the “total absence of monitoring” of NGOs and nursing homes was one of the key reasons behind the proliferation of such rackets.

“There is neither any monitoring mechanism of NGOs nor is there any comprehensive data bank on them. As for nursing homes, the monitoring mechanism is also very weak,” he said.

Asked whether the State government was considering setting up a monitoring system for NGOs, Women and Child Development minister Sashi Pana said on Friday that “necessary steps will be taken” after the investigation concludes. “The investigation so far has shown involvement of NGOs. It [the racket] may also be involved with adoption,” she said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:02:29 PM |

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