The state CID has unearthed a massive inter-state newborn trafficking racket being carried out by two private clinics in Baduria, North-24 Paraganas, with the help of an NGO for the past three years. Their modus operandi was to target unmarried mothers and impoverished parents, and sell their unwanted newborns to childless couples using fake documents. Sometimes, they even resorted to smuggling babies after duping their mothers into believing they had delivered stillborns.
Eight people including two women have been arrested in connection with the racket.
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According to sources, CID and local police raided Baidya Clinic and Sohon Nursing Home in Bagjola locality of Baduria Monday night. Sleuths recovered three newborns, two of which were found hidden in a biscuit carton at Sohon Nursing Home. The third baby was given back to her mother, identified as Sahida Bibi, a resident of Deganga, who had allegedly been told that she had delivered a stillborn.
“The private nursing home has been running an inter-state racket involving trafficking of newborns for the last three years. Those arrested have been identified as Satyajit Sinha, Nazma Bibi, Baikbul Baidya alias Baikbul Sheikh, Utpala Byapari, Prabhat Sarkar, Jhantu Biswas and Asadur Jaman. They all have been nabbed under section 369 (kidnapping or abducting child under 10 years with intent to steal from its person), 370 (trafficking) 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and 34 of CrPc,” said DIG (CID) B L Meena.
According to sources, the racket was being executed with the help of an NGO called Subodh Memorial Trust, whose owner, Satyajit Sinha, would bring in childless couples under the guise of facilitating adoptions. The main trafficker, Nazma Bibi, wife of Bakbul Baidya who owned Baidya Clinic, used to look after the overall operation of the racket.
“They had a network in Delhi and other states as well. They would mainly target unmarried women and sell their babies. A full-fledged team was part of the racket. A woman called Utpala Byapari, associated with the alleged NGO was the mediator between the nursing home and the client. Prabhat Sarkar, a clerk from Habra with a law degree, used to take care of paperwork. Jhantu Biswas, his associate, would help him prepare fake legal documents. Amirul Biswas is a quack connected with the racket and Asadur Jaman was the owner of the nursing home,” said an official. The accused would charge less for deliveries to lure poor women.
Sources said the CID is trying to track down the couples who have bought babies from the NGO, which would allegedly promise to supply children according to their preference of gender and complexion. Investigations have revealed that while male babies were sold at around Rs 2 lakh, females were sold at half the price. “Fair-skinned babies sold at higher rates. This gang has sold approximately 25 to 30 newborns till date, but the exact number is yet to be ascertained,” said the official. As per the couples’ preferences, the NGO would allegedly get in touch with the nursing home owner, who would supply newborns as per the delivery dates of women admitted there. Sources alleged that in case of unavailability of unmarried women, they would steal newborns from the clinic after telling the mothers they had delivered stillborns.
“We didn’t receive a formal complaint, but locals had informed Baduria police and CID about suspicious activities in the nursing home. The agency then began monitoring the movement of Nazma Bibi. Then, based on a tip-off, a raid was conducted,” said the official.
Four of the eight accused have been sent to police custody for 14 days. Sources said three doctors were involved. “Child trafficking is a flourishing business mainly because people who want to adopt children do not want to go through the lengthy legitimate process,” said an official.