The Sangli police on late Monday night arrested Babasaheb Khidrapure, the homeopath who ran an illicit abortion racket in the district’s Mhaisal village, after the discovery of as many as 19 aborted female foetuses dumped in a sewer.
The death of a 26-year-old Swati Jamdade on March 3 during a botched termination of her pregnancy, blew the lid off Dr. Khidrapure’s racket.
Dr. Khidrapure and his wife were on the run since then. He finally fell into the Sangli police’s dragnet and was arrested late night Monday from Belagavi in the neighbouring State of Karnataka.
He was produced amid high security at a local court in Miraj on Tuesday afternoon and sentenced to 10-day police custody till March 17.
The village of Mhaisal witnessed a total shutdown in protest against the doctor’s heinous crimes, with citizens demanding speedy justice.
The case once more has sharply fore-grounded the rampant female foeticide and gender inequality prevalent in the State’s rural hinterland.
According to police sources and Sangli district authorities, Dr. Khidrapure was believed to be running an inter-State racket since 2008, involving doctors and patients from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, who came to his clinic, ‘Bharati Hospital’, to get the abortions done.
“Other doctors used to visit him to get these extra-legal operations done, which normally took place on Mondays. The ground floor of his ‘clinic’ was equipped with surgical instruments, bio-medical mass and allopathy medicines. His accomplices then used a back-door to throw the aborted foetus in the sewer,” said the Sangli Superintendent of Police Dattatrey Shinde.
Dr. Khidrapure had two rooms, hidden out of sight and equipped with instruments to perform the abortions in the ground floor of his two-storey ‘hospital’. The police said that since he did not have sonography machines, some doctors used to send patients to him for performing illegal abortions once the sonography tests had been conducted.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also probing on whether abortion drugs were used by Dr. Khidrapure during his illicit operations, or whether he procured them from outside the State. Officials have sealed the medical store attached to his clinic.
The construction of Dr. Khidrapure’s clinic itself illegal, said Civil Surgeon Sanjay Salunkhe, adding that Dr. Khidrapure had been booked for violating the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act and the Medical Practitioners Act.
“The homeopath’s nursing home was not registered under the Nursing Home Act and since he held a mere bachelor’s degree in homeopathy, he was not authorised at all to perform abortions,” he said.