Barasat, Oct. 27: A five-year-old boy was allegedly sold by his father, a resident of Barasat, to a woman who paid him Rs 20,000 this evening.
Gopal Das would have left for an uncertain future with Putul Das, his 60-year-old “owner”, had members of a local club — their suspicion aroused after the boy lost his senses at a makeshift eatery near a Kali Puja pandal close to Barasat railway station — not intervened, police said.
When Gopal came to after water was splashed on his face — and drank some warm milk offered to him — he blurted out that he did not know Putul, though she insisted that she was a “distant relative” accompanying him, Pioneer Park Club secretary Joydeb Das said.
But, with club members Billu Ghosh and Nannu Ghosh refusing to let them go without being satisfied, Putul finally broke down and confessed that she had bought Gopal from his father, Santosh Das, for Rs 20,000 a few minutes earlier, Joydeb added.
Putul, said Joydeb, then tried to bribe her way out of the muddle; she offered the club boys Rs 10,000 for letting her go with Gopal. It was then that the club members sent for Santosh — Putul had given them his address — and had him brought over from his Bhatrapalli residence, also near the railway station, investigating officer Santinath Panja said.
Santosh came and initially tried to hoodwink them, club members alleged. But he, too, confessed after some more queries. He explained to club members that Gopal was the son of a wife who left him a few years back to go off with another man to Bangladesh.
“I work in a laundry and it is very difficult for me to take care of my second wife and the three children I have with her,” Santosh explained to club members. “I must look after the woman who has stayed with me,” he added.
Both Putul, a resident of nearby Bisharpara, and Santosh were taken to the local police station where they were detained for the night, district additional superintendent of police Swapan Kumar Purnapatra said.
Gopal, in accordance with the rules, would also spend the night at the police station, officials said.
“He will be sent to a government home and can go back home only if a family member files an appeal with the authorities,” one of them added.
“Most of the officers are on emergency law-and-order duty (for the Kali Puja immersion) and a more thorough interrogation will take place later,” Barasat sub-divisional police officer Bhuban Mandal said.
North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Basudeb Bag confirmed the incident.
“But we will have to probe more to know whether there is any organised racket behind this,” he added.
Home secretary Amit Kiran Deb came to know of the incident from The Telegraph. “I will immediately make enquiries now that you have told me,” he said, adding “appropriate action” would be taken.