Kolkata: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal police has uncovered a child trafficking racket in North 24 Parganas district, which had been selling infants, hidden in boxes meant to transport biscuits, to childless couples within India and abroad.
Eight people were arrested during the raid at Sohan Nursing Home and Polyclinic, where detectives found three newborn.
Two of the babies — a boy and a girl, three days old — were inside a biscuit carton.
A third one, nearly six days old, was found in a room, CID officers said.
They suspect that the newborns were placed inside the cartons and smuggled out in ambulances to evade suspicion.
“The babies were kept in the most inhumane conditions, which are not even suitable for animals. We believe up until now they have trafficked more than 30 babies within India and abroad. The investigation is on,” Bharatlal Mina, Deputy Inspector General CID said.
The babies were sold according to gender and complexion preferences.
While male babies were sold at around Rs200,000 (Dh10,676) females were sold for Rs80,000 to Rs100,000 depending on their complexion.
“Babies with fair complexion sold at higher rates. This syndicate has sold approximately 25 to 30 newborns till date, but the exact number is yet to be ascertained,” said an investigating officer.
Police are on the lookout for a doctor named T.K. Biswas who worked at the nursing home. A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is believed to have been involved, the police said. A retired doctor of state-run RG Kar Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata was also part of the racket.
Of the eight people arrested as of Tuesday night, two were women. While Satyajit Sinha and Utpala Byapari, who ran the NGO, and Bagbul Baidya and his wife Nazma Biwi, who owned the polyclinic, were sent to police custody, Ashaduzzaman, the nursing home owner, was sent to judicial custody.
Police say they targeted unwed couples, coercing them to deliver the child and forget it for a few thousand rupees.
In other cases, they told them the child was still born and refused to show the baby to the lawful parents.
“They exploited their ignorance, illiteracy and poverty and made them do what they wanted. Even if they were doubtful they had little options,” the police officer added.
During the raid on Tuesday morning, the team did not initially find anything.
Suspicions were however further raised when a woman, who claimed to have delivered a child on Monday, said staff at the nursing home told her she had giving birth to a stillborn, but refused to show her the child.
“We had to break open a door and the babies were found underneath an iron bed, inside a biscuit box,” the officer said.