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For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Pexels

Patna: Police have arrested the owner of a private nursing home in Bihar after he was found selling a newborn baby girl abandoned by an unwed mother for Rs65,000. Further investigation has revealed a human trafficking racket has been operating across some north Bihar districts which face annual flood disasters almost every year.

Acting on a tip-off that a human trafficking racket is being operated from an illegally-run private nursing home in Madhepura, a north Bihar town some 280km from Patna, local district magistrate Shyam Bihari Meena formed a team and order them to raid the hospital.

On Friday, a policeman in civvies reached the clinic posing as a customer and expressed his willingness to buy an infant. Initially the owner RK Ravi remained tightlipped and feigned ignorance about sale of babies from his clinic but when he got sure from the latter side, he agreed to hand over a newborn.

Police said initially the owner demanded Rs80,000 but finally the deal was settled for Rs65,000. However, the moment he received the cash, a team of policemen present in the hospital in civil clothes, raided the hospital and arrested the owner red-handed. The police confiscated the money and later sent the baby to the local government hospital for proper care. The identity of the child’s parents is yet to be established.

Hospital sealed

During the raid, the owner failed to produce his medical degree or any official papers granting him the permission to run the hospital. After some six-hour-long raid, the police sealed the hospital and shifted all the patients admitted there to the nearby government primary health centre.

“We have busted a big trafficking racket being operated from the hospital. We have arrested the owner and launched an investigation into his assets too,” local sub-divisional magistrate Rajiv Ranjan Sinha said on Saturday.

According to the police, the nursing home had been targeting mainly the unwed mothers. Such patients would normally leave the hospital leaving their babies behind after deliveries while the hospital earned handsome money by sale of such abandoned babies, police said. During interrogation, the arrested owner told the police that he used to charge anything between Rs85,000 and Rs150,000 for each abandoned baby depending on the financial background of the client.

Police said the racket had been flourishing with the help of health workers in the local government hospitals, who worked as agents and advised the patients to rush to this private clinic for better treatment, citing better medicare available there. They would get commission in turn, reports said. Some other private clinics too are under the police scanner for running a similar racket.

Such illegal trade runs in the state despite the Patna High Court already ordering for shutting such illegal private clinics/nursing homes/pathological laboratories and diagnostic centres two years back. The court passed the order in December 2019 after a petition was filed by Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists which sought the state’s stance on the illegal health centres expanding in the state rapidly over the years and the inaction over it.

“The unlawful running of unauthorized Pathological centres/ Laboratories/Institution and Establishment is perhaps leading to faulty diagnosis and treatment of patients. At the first instance, there is no explanation why these laboratories are allowed to be established. Save and except for registering an FIR (First Information Report), and that against one isolated person, we notice no concrete action to have been taken in enforcing the provisions of law, which the State is otherwise duty-bound to do so, more so, when it is a settled principle of law that right to medical health is a constitutional right,” the court observed.