The CID tonight arrested owner of another old age home and rehabilitation centre in the southern fringes of the city for his alleged involvement in the child trafficking racket busted from North 24 district’s Baduria taking the total number of arrests in the case to 16.
‘Joka Millennium old age home and rehab centre’ owner Bimal Adhikari (61) of Green Park Hans Pukur in Thakurpukur Police Station limits was arrested during a raid by a team of CID sleuths tonight, a top CID official told PTI.
Tonight’s arrest took the total number of persons arrested in case to 16 with seven of them being women.
Earlier in the day, the CID recovered as many as 10 babies from an old age home and exhumed bodies of two infants from the campus of an NGO, besides seizing foreign currency from an accused in the case.
CID rescued 10 babies, all girl children ranging from one to ten months old, during a raid from the third floor of ‘Purbasha’, an old age home for mentally challenged at Kolagachhiya under Thakurpukur police station, Rajesh Kumar, ADG and IGP, state CID told reporters here in the afternoon.
“An initial probe revealed that at least 50 infants have been sold from the home and the number could be more. We are looking into it. CID is also trying to find out the buyers of these babies,” he said.
“After questioning one of the accused arrested earlier in connection with the child racket, CID recovered bodies from the compound of ‘Sujit Memorial Trust’ at Machlandapur in Habra,” the officer said.
During interrogation, it surfaced that culprits involved in this racket used to bury the babies, who had died while being shifted from one hiding place to another, he said.
Stating that the racket may have gone international, Kumar said the CID sleuths also seized foreign currencies in Euro, USD and Hong Kong Dollar and gold ornaments including coins worth several lakhs from the possession of accused Partha Chatterjee, owner of a nursing home in north Kolkata.
State Welfare Minister Sashi Panja said action would be taken after the investigation into the matter was over.
The CID also arrested Reena Banerjee, daughter of Putul Banerjee, who was taken into custody two days back in this connection, while two women were detained during the early morning raid at the old age home, he said.
CID sources said that these babies were recently shifted by one of the accused who is at large.
The arrested have been booked under Sections 369 (kidnapping or abducting child under ten years), 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC, Kumar said.
After the post mortem report of the remains of the bodies of the two infants, the CID might press murder charges against the accused, he said.
On the involvement of middlemen from other states, the CID official said, “There could be several people acting as middlemen for these nursing homes, clinics and the NGOs. We have information and we are working out on them.”
The racket used to smuggle newborns to other states and abroad in cardboard boxes meant for biscuit packaging, he said.
On the health condition of the rescued babies, the CID official said that the 10 babies rescued today were kept in Thakurpukur ESI hospital and they were fine.
“The three babies rescued from a Baduria nursing home earlier, were in very serious condition. They were kept under special care in Barishat Sadar hospital and are stable now”, he said.