Senior officials of the government of the eastern Indian state of Orissa admit some of its own officials are involved in the sordid saga of female feticide recently discovered, but warned none of them would be spared.
Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy said that four out of six nursing homes and three diagnostic centres running at the district headquarters town of Nayagarh were without license.
It is this place that is at the centre of a raging storm following the recovery of skulls and body parts contained in polythene bags while digging out a pit used for dumping of medical waste.
Tripathy also faulted the Chief District Medical Officer of Nayagarh for laxity and promised action against the officers responsible for inspection and issue of licenses to private nursing homes.
Although license is required for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP), none of the private clinics there is authorised to conduct MTP, it has been stated.
After a meeting with the Chief Minister in the state capital of Bhubaneswar, the Chief Secretary said some of the Government doctors are believed to be practising in the unauthorised nursing homes. They wont be spared, he declared.
The Chief Secretary said that he visited all the spots from where recoveries were effected including the well in which a large number of female fetuses were found. The well which is located at a distant and isolated place from the town appears to have been dug exclusively for the purpose.
He further said all the district collectors in the state had been directed to crack down on unauthorised nursing homes and diagnostic centres.
He also revealed that the seven female fetuses that were first detected were now missing.
"It is very shocking," Health Secretary Chinmoy Basu who accompanied Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy to Nayagarh town told media persons. Crime Branch of police is probing the case and truth will come out very soon, he added.
There are 32 ultrasound clinics in Nayagarh alone, it has been revealed. Officials checked the records of these clinics and took statements of pregnant women who had come to these clinics.
It was nine days ago the police first stumbled upon the buried remains of seven female fetuses in Nabaghanpur village, 3 km from Nayagarh. Since then more and more body parts are being recovered.
As per the latest tally as many as 132 polythene bags have been recovered in the region.
Satish Agnihotri, a demographer who studied births in Orissa, said that new technology and increasing prosperity had combined to worsen the sex ratios. In the last census urban Orissa had only 860 girls per 1,000 boys.
The incident is only the tip of the iceberg, said Sabu George, a campaigner against female infanticide. He claims that by 2011 Indian families will be killing one million female children a year.
Traditionally, India's patriarchal society has preferred boys over girls. Punjab and the neighbouring state of Haryana, the richest states in India, have seen sex ratios heavily skewed.
According to the 2001 census, the latest population data, the national sex ratio was 933 girls to 1,000 boys whereas in Punjab it was 798 girls to 1,000 boys in 2001, compared to 875 in 1991.
The skewing of the population in favour of males has meant that brides are scarce - men are forced to travel across the country to find a match.
George said the problem could be traced to "doctors who kill... They take money and with the full knowledge of the parents they abort female fetuses. The question is whether the police will prosecute."