KARNATAKA

Preet Mandir's managing trustee arrested in adoption racket, remanded till August 13

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday arrested Pune-based adoption centre Preet Mandir's managing trustee Joginder Singh Bhasin in Belapur near Mumbai for his alleged involvement in an “inter-country adoption racket”.

The arrest, the first in this case, was the result of a CBI investigation of Preet Mandir. A special court here on Tuesday remanded Mr. Bhasin to CBI custody till August 13.

He was charged with forgery, kidnapping, cheating and misappropriation of funds amounting to Rs. 25.7 lakh, CBI officials said.

The District and Sessions Court in Pune had denied Mr. Bhasin interim relief on July 30.

Following that, he had moved the Bombay High Court for anticipatory bail. During the hearing for the anticipatory bail plea on Monday, the CBI sought 15 days' time to oppose the bail.

With Mr. Bhasin not getting any interim relief from the High Court, the CBI arrested him at the office of the Superintendent of Police (CBI) at Belapur in Navi Mumbai at 6.20 p.m.

According to CBI officials, when told of the arrest, Mr. Bhasin complained that he was experiencing chest pain.

He covered his face with a mask, saying he was suffering from A(H1N1).

He was taken to the NNMC Hospital at Vashi and JJ Hospital in Mumbai for a medical check-up where the doctors reportedly told the CBI that he was physically fit and had no medical problems.

According to sources, CBI lawyer Manoj Chalandan submitted to the court that there have been 70 instances of illegal adoption between 2002 and 2005 in which Mr. Bhasin had charged excess money of Rs. 50,000 from the adoptive parents. He also alleged that Mr. Bhasin had misappropriated orphanage fund for his own use amounting to Rs. 25,70,016 between 2002 and 2007.

Mr. Bhasin's lawyer Tulpule refuted the charge of forgery.

Several city-based child rights' organisations had also raised a question on the functioning of Preet Mandir.

Nakul Kate of the Action for the Rights of Children (ARC) told The Hindu that he had been fighting a case against Preet Mandir and the dubious nature of their adoptions since 2006.

Mr. Kate is also one of the working trustees of Pune-based Sakhi.

“Parents who had given their children to the care and protection wing of Preet Mandir told us that they were duped. Their children were illegally sent off for adoption to foreign countries.

Following this complaint in the Bombay High Court, their international adoption licence was cancelled. But we want their in-country adoption licence to be cancelled too,” he said.

The adoption centre was also alleged to have been party to the illegal adoption of an HIV positive baby in June this year.

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