Months after being felicitated by the state government for his contribution towards child protection, the West Bengal CID on Friday arrested Mrinal Ghosh, the Darjeeling district child protection officer (DCPO), along with a registered medical practitioner — who is also a member of the Darjeeling Child Welfare Committee (CWC) — for their alleged involvement in the Jalpaiguri child trafficking racket.
The arrest comes days after key accused Chandana Chakrobarty — who used to own the illegal homes — her associate Sonali Mondal and BJP leader Juhi Chowdhury were arrested in the case. Chandana’s brother Manas Bhowmik was also arrested. The CID is currently in search of Juhi’s father, Rabindra Narayan Chowdhury, also a BJP leader.
“Today, we have arrested Dr Debashish Chandra, a member of the Darjeeling CWC, and a visiting doctor to the Bimala Sishu Griha and Ahsray. We have also arrested Darjeeling DCPO Mrinal Ghosh,” DIG (CID) Nishat Parvej said.
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The CID has also detained and interrogated Shasmita Ghosh, Mrinal’s wife, who is the Jalpaiguri DCPO. Sources said Shasmita is likely to be arrested soon.
On February 20, she had been showcaused by Jalpaiguri District Magistrate Rachna Bhagat, who asked her to reply within 48 hours if there was any dereliction of duty on her part. The next day, Shashmita had told mediapersons: “I was never involved in any illegal activity related to the shelter. I have never received any favour in cash or kind from the home authorities.”
On Thursday, Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava had showcaused Mrinal, asking him to reply within 48 hours in regard to the allegations made by the CID. Mrinal, the CID said, has been associated with the child protection wing in Darjeeling district and Jalpaiguri for over a decade. He was initially associated with a local NGO called Concern.
As the state government last year celebrated June 9 as Child Protection Day, Ghosh was honoured on behalf of the Darjeeling district administration for exemplary work towards child protection. A member of the CWC said: “At the event, which took place at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata, he was felicitated on behalf of the work done by Darjeeling district.”
“Mrinal and Debashish Chandra worked together at Concern. While it seems that Mrinal had been involved in the racket for long, we believe he roped in Chandra. He is a registered medical practitioner. In New Jalpaiguri, he was the doctor associated with Chandana’s home for children, Bimala Sishu Griha. We believe he would check up on pregnant women and then the two would convince them into giving up their babies to Chandana’s home,” said an official.