KOLKATA: Even as the investigation into the high-profile Jalpaiguri child trafficking racket is on in full swing, with names of MPs and government officials embroiled in the case, a separate infant trafficking racket allegedly run by Bangladeshi nationals was busted in Falta of South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
The accused couple Shyamal and Savitri Baidya had allegedly trafficked at least 15 infants from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha to other parts of the country since 2011, police claimed. They had entered the country through Petrapole border near Bongaon around 10 years back. During their initial days in India, Shyamal worked as a scrap dealer whereas Savitri worked as a domestic help in nursing home.
Police suspect that Savitri built her contacts during her initial years of work in nursing homes, and revealed that every infant may have been sold at Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000, with good looking ones costing even more. However, police refuted any links between the Falta infant trafficking case with Jalpaiguri trafficking.
"The accused have not yet revealed any links between Falta trafficking case and Jalpaiguri trafficking case," South 24 Parganas district additional SP (West) Chandra Sekhor Bardhan told New Indian Express. "The infants were not kept with one contact for long to avoid suspicion," he added.
After being nabbed from a safe house in Fatehpur of Falta in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday, the duo were produced in Diamond Harbour subdivisional court. While Shyamal was given 11 days police custody, Savitri was sent to jail for 14 days.
Involvement of the Bangladeshi couple came to light after Harisadhan Khan, owner of Jeevandweep nursing home and his son Prabir were arrested by South 24 Parganas police on Saturday night. The nursing home was under the scanner after three infants were found abandoned near a canal in Chandpara village of Falta after West Bengal police began nabbing suspected child traffickers when the Bhaduria infant trafficking racket came to light in November last year.
Interrogation of a suspected woman revealed that the three abandoned infants were brought from Jeevandweep nursing home and were meant to be trafficked.
Police interrogation has revealed that the accused brought infants from other nursing homes and kept them in Jeevandweep nursing home while negotiating a deal with the prospective buyers. "People from Srikrishna nursing home in Sealdah and Purbasha nursing home frequently visited us for deals," accused Shyamal Baidya told media on Monday.
Incidentally, the names of these three nursing homes were also linked with the Bhaduria infant trafficking racket last November in which over 30 infants were sold from a nursing home in Bhaduria in North 24 Parganas district after their mothers were told that they gave stillbirth. Meanwhile, police have sealed Jeevandweep nursing home on Monday.
Sources revealed that the accused duo made a fortune after starting the business of selling infants. They constructed three houses in Falta, Maheshtala in Kolkata suburbs and Bongaon near Bangladesh border. It has come to light that the accused never stayed at one house for long and used to travel at night and seldom interacted with neighbours. Two SUVs were also found parked outside their Falta house. The couple has two daughters. While one is married in Maheshtala, another daughter is a college student.
Jalpaiguri traffickers updated fake data on Women and Child Development website, claims CID
Meanwhile, West Bengal Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Monday claimed that fake data was uploaded on the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) website after trafficking 17 minors from Ashray shelter home run by prime accused Chandana Chakraborty.
However, the irregularities came to the notice of the central ministry which then wanted to shut Chandana's homes after which she started lobbying with co-accused suspended BJP leader Juhee Choudhury to influence the North Block in vetoing their decision, the agency has claimed.
"Arrested Darjeeling District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) Mrinal Ghosh and Child Welfare Committee member Dr Debashish Chanda were the main brains behind helping Chandana Chakraborty in updating false data of 17 trafficked minors in the WCD website. Irregularities in parents' names and addresses were noticed by WCD officials," a CID sleuth told New Indian Express.
Some 17 minors were brought to the shelter home in 2014. However, important documents such as address proofs of the children were not maintained. The entire process of making the documents began after selling them two years later in 2016, sources revealed.
Meanwhile, CID raided three destinations in Darjeeling district along with Ghosh and Chandana.