Child smuggling racket in Bengal busted, 8 arrested

At least eight people were arrested after a special team of Criminal Investigation Department raided a private hospital in Baranagar in the North 24 Parganas district and caught hold of the culprits who were selling newborn babies.

Three more women have been detained in connection with the worldwide child trafficking racket busted in North 24 Parganas district's Baduria area, a CID official said today.

The eight arrested include Sohom Nursing Home owner Asadur Zaman, owner of Baidya Clinic Bagbul Baidya, and his wife Najma Bibi, head of the NGO Satyajit Sinha, NGO member Utpala Byapari, the quack Amirul Biswas, law clerk of Basirhat court Prabhat Sarkar and his associate Jhantu Biswas. Among the other nursing homes, Dolphin Nursing home and Srikrishna nursing homes are under the scanner after Paramita Chatterjee, who recently took over as owner of Sri Krishna, was arrested from there, as did Santosh Kumar Samanta (60), a doctor who lives in Dum Dum.

The police also suspect the role of an NGO in identifying potential buyers.

"The inquiry is underway and more information will be revealed only after some more progress is made", Bharat Lal Meena, Deputy Inspector General for the CID in West Bengal, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The police did not give a price, but local news reports said the mothers were given 300,000 rupees ($4,380) for a boy and 100,000 rupees ($1,460) for a girl.

The babies were allegedly taken in biscuit boxes to an adoption centre in Machlandapur
The babies were allegedly taken in biscuit boxes to an adoption centre in Machlandapur

The police believe that young, unmarried women who were pregnant were paid by the small clinic not to have an abortion.

The CID officer said more arrests were likely in the coming days. Three doctors were also involved in the racket. "Some of the infants were trafficked to other states as well", he said.

The babies were taken to various parts of the country and sold for lakhs of rupees.

Hunt is on for a doctor named TK Biswas who worked at the nursing home.

Gangs sell thousands of victims into bonded labour every year or hire them out to exploitative bosses.

India, alone is home to 40 percent of the world's estimated 45.8 million slaves, according to a 2016 global slavery index published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.

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