With the help of a tribal pregnant woman from Shahada taluka of Nandurbar district in Maharashtra who acted as a decoy,Maharashtra officials have tracked a sex selection racket to Panesar in Surat,Gujarat. Two doctors and an agent have been arrested.
On March 22,the Surat police,along with district health authorities,health officials from Nandurbar and activist-advocate Varsha Deshpande of Lekh Ladki Abhiyaan,conducted raids at clinics of Dr Ketan Zariwala,a gynaecologist at Surat,Dr Chetan Patel,a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine,and arrested them along with Hiralal Pawar,a ward boy at Nandurbars Khushi hospital,for their role in determining sex of a foetus and flouting provisions of the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.
Dr Prakash Waghela,Gujarats PC-PNDT nodal officer,said this was the first joint operation involving two states and special crime branch officers from Surat were brought in to avoid any untoward incident.
Dr Prasad Bhandari,in charge of the PC-PNDT Act implementation at Nandurbar district,said there were complaints about two-three hospitals at Shahada tehsil regarding their involvement in sex selective abortions.
Deshpande,who has conducted 34 such operations leading to arrests of doctors in Maharashtra,said that they tracked down the racket when Pawar agreed to take the tribal woman to Surat.
According to Bhandari,Pawar took the woman and Kailash Jadhav,an activist from Lekh Ladki Abhiyan who posed as her relative,in a bus to Surat to meet Patel at Om Sai Diagnostic laboratory. He demanded Rs 14,000 and then took her on a two wheeler to Wani hospital where Zariwala conducted ultrasound and said the foetus was a girl. He refused to do the abortion as the pregnancy was in its 23rd week. The doctors fearing a raid went into hiding,but their mobile phones were traced and they were arrested.
Bhandari said that till recently,Nandurbar had a healthy child sex ratio and as per Census 2011 it was 932 girls per 1000 boys. However in the last one and a half year there has been a decline by more than 25 points,particularly in Shahada which has more than 30 sonography centres. The figure dipped to 907 girls per 1000 boys by December and we got several complaints about hospitals referring women to other states, Bhandari said.