Kolkata: There was high drama before the police arrested Juhi Choudhury on Tuesday night, a BJP leader, in connection with the baby selling racket in West Bengal.
The CID had been able to track her down to a house in Kharibari block of Darjeeling, just a 10-minute drive from the Indo-Nepal border. The information was that Ms Chowdhury – who had slipped into Nepal after the police lodged the case 10 days earlier – had returned.
She had been on the run but this time, the cops had an address, but they didn’t want to alert her if she wasn’t in.
Some of the cops got hold of saffron robes, and disguised themselves as sanyasis (ascetics) on their rounds for alms. This was the recce team that was to make sure Ms Chowdhury was at home. She was. The rest of the policemen barged in soon after.
According to the police, Ms Chowdhury played an active role in the baby selling racket in Jalpaiguri in North Bengal that has blown into a full-fledged political row between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress that is in power in the state.
Juhi Choudhury, the police say was avoiding arrest and escaped to Nepal after Chandana Chakraborty, who headed the NGO and Sonali Mondal one of her associates last month. She was produced before a court that remanded her in the CID’s custody for the next 12 days.
The CID probe started after babies were found being trafficked in biscuit boxes in Baduria in North 24 Parganas last year.
Chandana Chakraborty reportedly told the CID that Ms Choudhury, the women’s wing chief of the BJP’s Jalpaiguri unit – helped her with permissions to run her home from where at least 17 babies were allegedly sold. Ms Choudhury has been booked for trafficking babies by the CID that believes she was colluding with Chakraborty in selling babies in India and abroad.
Police sources say Juhi Choudhury contacted senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya through Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly for aid from the central government and licence renewal for ‘Ashray, the home Chandana Chakraborty ran.
The CID is investigating if Ms Ganguly was aware of Juhi Choudhury’s activities and if Juhi had sought her help for clearances for the home.
Mr Vijayvargiya dismissed the allegations, questioning the probe that he insisted was being directed by the ruling Trinamool Congress. Ms Ganguly didn’t think there was a need to respond to everything an accused says in front of a television channel.
Ms Chowdhury’s questioning is critical to finding out who else is involved in the racket and if need be, political leaders with links to Juhi Choudhury too could be called in, a CID source said, a hint that there could be more twists and turns in this story.