Kolkata: Babies, some just 24 hours old, were bundled into biscuit cartons, allegedly by the staff at a nursing home in West Bengal and sent by road to a government hospital where they were sold, the police say.
Eight people including the owner of the private nursing home, a woman identified as Nazma Bibi, were arrested on Tuesday afternoon in Bhaduria in 24 Parganas, 85 km from the state capital of Kolkata.
The staffers were caught red-handed when the police raided the hospital and searched a locked room used to store medical supplies. Police officials were stunned to discover three new-born babies in biscuit cartons. One of the babies had been delivered just hours earlier.
“We have rescued three new born babies. There are doctors involved in this,” said Dr Bharat Lal Meena, a senior police officer who handled the investigation.
The police believe that young, unmarried women who were pregnant were paid by the small clinic not to have an abortion. Three lakhs were paid for a baby boy and one lakh for a girl. After the infant was born at the nursing home, it would be shifted to a nearby state-run hospital in Basirhat for post-delivery care. From there, the babies would be smuggled away in biscuit cartons in a racket that lasted three years before it was busted. The police says that the nursing home staff would also sell a healthy child they had delivered to couples at the government-run hospital whose newborn had died.
“We suspect that this racket was on for three years. As of now we believe at least 25 babies were sold. We are not sure of the number as we have to go through their records in our investigation,” Dr Bharat Lal Meena said.
The police also suspect the role of an NGO in identifying potential buyers. “We have traced three couples who were victims of this racket and one couple has been reunited with their baby,” Dr Meena added.