CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced in the Assembly that a committee under the chairmanship of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee will be formed to probe the infant child trafficking racket that was recently busted in the state.
Besides Chatterjee, the committee will include Congress’ Abdul Mannan and CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty. While chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee will be its convenor, the committee will also comprise Home Secretary Malay Kumar De, Health Secretary R S Shukla, Woman and Child Development Secretary Roshni Sen, DGP Surajit Kar Purkayastha and Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
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Initially, the chief minister said that the panel would be headed by the chief secretary, but later changed it when CPM member Sujan Chakraborty asked whether it was possible for Chatterjee to stay in the panel headed by a bureaucrat. Later, Mamata’s proposal was adopted by the House by a show of hands. She said the committee will meet once a month.
Flagging the issue for the first time since the racket was unearthed on November 21, Mamata told the House that the incident was unfortunate and worrisome. “The racket has been flourishing with the help of some nursing homes and NGOs, but this is nothing new. Such a thing had happened in 1982 and offenders were chargesheeted in 1999. Another such incident had taken place in 2010 as well.”
“In the current case, CID officials have unearthed the racket. Licences of three private nursing homes have been suspended, 20 people have been arrested and 15 infants rescued, of among whom one had died and another returned to the biological parents. The rest have been kept at different government homes,” she added.
“Poor families who had been forced to sell their children would be dealt in a humane manner but those who sold infants out of greed would not be spared,” she said.
On reports of the racket having political links, the Trinamool Congress chief urged her colleagues not to give any political protection to those who had indulged in the crime.
While Mannan welcomed such a committee, CPM’s Chakraborty said unless political interference was stopped in the child welfare department, things would not improve. “Every child welfare committee is supposed to submit a report every month to the state government but no such report has been submitted in the last eight months,” he claimed.