AMAR DESAI (32), one of the six accused arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch earlier this week for his alleged involvement in a child trafficking racket, has claimed that he committed the crime as he was under pressure from his family to have a male child after two daughters.
The police said that Desai, who hails from Kolhapur, told his relatives that his wife had delivered twins, a boy and a girl. In reality, his wife delivered only a girl. Following this, Desai, a driver with a cab aggregator, allegedly agreed to pay Rs 3.84 lakh for a seven-day boy, he told the police.
Of the six arrested, two including Desai, were booked for purchasing children, while four women were arrested for scouting for children and selling them.
Inspector Chandrakant Dalvi of Crime Branch (Unit VI) said, “When the racket was busted and a team went to Kolhapur, Desai’s extended family had already had a function where they named the two children — the girl delivered by his wife and the boy they purchased.”
Desai, who sold jewellery and mortgaged his one-room flat in Bhiwandi to purchase the boy, told his family in Kolhapur that during childbirth, there were certain complications because of which they ended up losing all their money.
The officer said that the child has now been handed over to the Children Welfare Committee (CWC). His biological mother, who hails from Mankhurd, has been traced. She told the police that the main accused, Asha Joseph alias Lalita (30), told her that she was legally giving up her child for adoption and gave her Rs 1 lakh for the same, said police.
Joseph also allegedly told the mother that her son would have a better future and she could meet him whenever she wanted to. “It does not appear she knew that what was happening was a crime. Hence, we have not booked her,” Dalvi said.
Another accused arrested in the case, Bhagyashree Kadam, purchased a boy after not being able to have a child for 18 years. Near her residence along the eastern suburbs of the city, a surrogacy centre had purchased a room where Joseph took care of surrogate mothers. In 2016, Kadam approached Joseph to enquire about the surrogacy process.
“Joseph told her that there was an easier way out. She told her that she knew women willing to give up their children. Eventually, they struck a deal at Rs 2.50 lakh, for a boy nearly three years ago,” Dalvi said.
Kadam raised the child for over two years. Now, the police have handed him over to the CWC and are looking for his biological mother.
Besides Desai and Kadam, four others arrested in the case are Asha Joseph, Bhagyashree Koli (26), Sunanda Masane (30) and Savita Salunkhe (30).
The police suspect that the four are also involved in buying and selling of two more children. Salunkhe had been arrested in the past as well.