- The total number of babies rescued rose to 15, with 10 being rescued from old age home.
- The total number of accused arrested has risen to 15 including seven women.
- There is an involvement of several nursing homes, clinics, NGO's and doctors in this illegal trade.
Baby smuggling seems to be on the rise in Bengal.
Three infants were found in a biscuit box at a nursing home at Baduria, north of Kolkata.
‘Direct evidence would help the investigators to build the case against baby trafficking.’
On another day police stumbled upon 10 infants, all girls, hidden away in an old age home at Thakurpukur in south Kolkata.
"Several nursing homes, clinics and NGOs are involved in this racket and whenever babies died while being shifted from one place to another, these traffickers used to bury them in and around the places where they were kept," the CID official said.
Between the Baduria and Thakurpukur raids, another two nursing homes were searched in Kolkata city.
Nursing Home on College Street-
At the one on College Street, the Criminal Investigation Department police team (CID) also found cash of around 200 US dollars, 2000 Honk Kong dollars, 1200 Euros, 15,000 rupees and gold.
CID officials said the arrest of Partha Chatterjee — the owner of Ramkrishna Nursing Home on College Street — was important given he played a key role in coordinating with the Machhlandapur NGO arranging the babies.
He has been slapped IPC Sections 369 (kidnapping or abducting child under 10 years with intent to steal from its person), 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave), 315 ( act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Few doctors were also part of the racket. CID sources said the doctors used to receive anything between Rs 60,000-70,000 for each fake document they helped prepare.
"Whenever there was a need for a baby — dead or alive — to be sent to Baduria, these doctors were contacted and they arranged the babies," claimed a CID officer.
The 14th accused to be arrested was Marefa Bibi of Machhlandapur. She helped the main accused Najma Bibi in the dirty work.
"In all, 15 persons have been arrested and some of them are common to the four operations conducted so far," said Additional Deputy General of CID, Mr Rajesh Kumar. "We are trying to unearth the nexus. But many more nursing homes may be involved," he added.Involvement of Old Age Home
A CID team working on a tip off, raided Purbasha, an old age home with 23 residents at Thakurpukur.
On the top floor of the building, they found 10 infant girls, all between the ages of one to 10 months.
The space was rented out by the owner of the building. He is being investigated.
Police suspect those involved would convince unmarried women to deliver their babies and leave.
Married women were shown dead infants and told they had given birth to still born babies, when in fact they had not.
The male babies were sold for Rs 2 lakh, while the female babies for Rs 1 lakh.
Bodies of two infants dug up at Baduria from a ground adjoining an NGO that is suspected to be involved in the racket.
CID sources maintained that besides the three nursing homes at Baduria, Behala and College Street, there are at least five other nursing homes which are under their scanner.
Investigators say with this direct evidence, they can now build their case which would have otherwise been difficult unless the real mothers came forward to claim their legitimate babies.
CID officials say they might record the statement of some government officials and have already asked for a list of all licensed nursing homes in the state. "We need to prepare a list of the unlicensed nursing homes which indulge in unscrupulous activities," said a source.
Cops are also tracing the involvement of political links in the illegal trade.
Meanwhile, the police have moved the rescued infants to safety and shifted them to ESI hospital for treatment.