Bodies of two infants were exhumed from Sujit Dutta Memorial Welfare Trust premises at Machlandapur in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district Friday. The trust is allegedly involved in trafficking newborns, a racket police believe could be transnational. So far, 15 people, including seven women, have been arrested in this connection. The exhumation came a day after 10 infants were rescued from an “old age home” in Kolkata.
“Acting on a tip-off, our team recovered two bodies. We might get more bodies there,” said ADG (CID) Rajesh Kumar. Officials said newborns were being smuggled to other states in cardboard boxes used for packing biscuits.
During interrogation of the accused, police said they were told that those involved in the racket buried babies who died while being shifted. “Several nursing homes, clinics and NGOs are involved. Whenever babies died while being shifted, the traffickers used to bury them in and around the places where they were kept,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, late Thursday, officials rescued 10 infants — all girls aged between one and 10 months — during a raid at the third floor of Purbasha, an “old age home for the mentally challenged” at Thakurpukur. Following the raid, Reena Banerjee, Purbasha’s owner, was arrested.
Sources said Reena is the daughter of Putul Banerjee, who was arrested two days ago in the case. She is owner of South View Nursing Home in Kolkata. “An initial probe revealed that at least 50 infants have been sold from Purbasha… this number could be more. The CID is also trying to find who bought these babies,” Kumar said.
Sources said newborns from South View were transferred to Purbasha, from where they were sold to childless couples. Locals said that while they had noticed people entering the home with babies, the centre had always maintained that newborns from Putul Banerjee’s nursing home were brought there for administering polio drops. “This building houses a health centre. So, when we saw any newborn being brought in, we did not think of it as odd,” said a local.