(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) In a recent crackdown, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) officials apprehended three more individuals in connection with a case involving the sale of newborn babies. This revelation has raised suspicions about reputed hospitals and doctors in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka being part of this illicit network. The arrests include Suhasini, Gomathi, and Radha from Erode in Tamil Nadu, along with earlier apprehended individuals like Mahalakshmi of Mahalakshmi Layout, Kannan Ramaswamy from Tamil Nadu, Hemalatha, Murugeswari from Madurai, and Sharanya from Shantinagar, as part of the initial phase of the operation conducted by the CCB.
Investigations have unveiled the involvement of four hospitals in Tamil Nadu linked to the baby-selling network, three of which have already been sealed by local authorities. Commissioner of Police B. Dayanand emphasized the need for further investigation into the potential complicity of doctors and hospitals in Karnataka.
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The CCB's Organized Crime Squad (West) received crucial information about the sale of a male infant from Tamil Nadu near the Rajarajeshwari temple in Rajarajeshwari city. Acting on this tip-off, a specialized team, led by DCP R. Srinivas Gowda and supported by ACP H.N. Dharmendra, Inspectors S. Mahadevaswamy, and S. Nayaz Ahmed, initiated an operation. This effort unveiled a child trafficking network, leading to the detention and interrogation of four women, including three from Tamil Nadu, who were found in a Swift car near the Rajarajeshwari temple.
The accused women allegedly made profits by unlawfully selling their eggs to well-known hospitals in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Additionally, they acted as intermediaries, offering money to financially disadvantaged women in exchange for their eggs.
Reports indicate the accused were previously involved in surrogacy or the sale of babies in Tamil Nadu. Following amendments to the Surrogacy Act, they continued their operations illegally, offering meagre amounts ranging from ₹15,000 to ₹20,000 to women who sold their eggs.
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Once the network in Tamil Nadu faced police scrutiny, the accused expanded their operations into Karnataka. These traffickers reportedly liaised with hospitals and IVF centres in Bengaluru, collaborating with employees to identify childless couples seeking to adopt or avail themselves of newborns through surrogacy. The accused negotiated deals with these couples, charging anywhere between ₹4 lakh to ₹8 lakh per child and sharing the proceeds amongst themselves.
The investigation has so far revealed the sale of 10 children, with a 20-day-old baby boy recently rescued and admitted to Vani Vilasa Children's Hospital for care. Efforts are underway to gather information about other couples who might have procured children from this network.
To catch the culprits, the CCB officials, upon learning about the baby-selling racket, orchestrated an operation posing as potential buyers. Inspector Mahadevaswamy orchestrated a deal with Mahalakshmi, one of the accused, to buy a child, ultimately leading to the apprehension of the perpetrators when they arrived to deliver the child in RR Nagar.
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Allegedly, the arrested women had engaged in illegal surrogacy, selling children at prices ranging from ₹2 lakh to ₹10 lakh. They targeted vulnerable women facing economic distress or seeking abortions, enticing them with monetary offers and eventually purchasing their newborns. The sale prices reportedly varied based on factors like colour and gender, with girls sold for ₹4 to ₹5 lakhs and boys fetching ₹8 to ₹10 lakhs. Black-coloured babies were priced lower by ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakhs, while white infants commanded higher prices of ₹3 to ₹4 lakhs.
The accused were also involved in forging birth certificates for the infants they sold, allegedly with the aid of certain doctors. A 20-day-old rescued baby was found with a falsified birth certificate. Operating as a syndicate, the network functioned seamlessly, with different members playing specific roles in the sale process. They utilized communication platforms like WhatsApp to swiftly share information and finalize deals for newborns.
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