Women’s organisations on Wednesday demanded that Dr Babasaheb Khidrapure, the main suspect in the Sangli abortion racket, and his accomplices be charged with culpable homicide for the death of Swati Jamdade. “The incident has highlighted several aspects, including sex determination, unsafe abortions and the nexus between public health officials and unscrupulous criminals,” said Kiran Moghe from the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “Once again, it is the death of a woman that has given a wake-up call to the administration, and raises questions as to what it has been doing in a district such as Sangli which already has a history of violations of the PCPNDT Act,” a release from the Stree Mukti Andolan Sampark Samiti said on Wednesday. The administration has several questions to answer – was Khidrapure’s hospital registered under the MTP Act? Were regular inspections being conducted by the authorities? Was the sonography machine registered under the PCPNDT Act?
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Women’s organisations have demanded that a committee be set up to conduct an inquiry into the incident. “All those involved, be it other doctors, those who brokered such illegal activities or who ferried patients, government officials and even elected representatives, if involved, must be sought out and brought to book immediately,” said Moghe. “It is also hard to believe that other professional doctors and their associations were not aware of such illegal activities,” added Moghe.
Sangli has always been a sensitive district, with the child sex ratio (0-6 years) declining from 924 to 851 in the period 1991-2001. It showed only a slight upturn in the 2011 census figures at 862. It is well known that there is a large illegal network of operators indulging in sex selection, and illegal unsafe abortions in the areas bordering Karnataka. “We for long have been demanding that the PCPNDT authorities should show greater sensitivity and vigilance in bordering districts, but the Maharashtra government has ignored our demands. Now, there is reason to believe that there is a nexus with this illegal mafia, and we demand that there should be a thorough enquiry into this aspect,” Moghe demanded. The Stree Mukti Andolan Sampark Samiti has submitted a memorandum of demands to the state health minister.