| Everest Nursing Home, in Dum Dum’s Ghugudanga. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
The recovery of a three-day-old girl child by vigilant residents of Dum Dum has blown the lid off a racket involving the sale of unwanted babies of unwed mothers from a nursing home.
Soon after the infant was rescued by local residents, police arrested Renuka Sharma, one of the owners of Everest Nursing Home, where the girl had been born.
Police sources said seven babies had already been sold from the nursing home in the past year. Baby boys would be sold for anything between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh — “depending on their weight and appearance” — while a girl child would fetch Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.
“We are probing the details of the nursing home authorities and the extent of the racket,” said Supratim Sarkar, the superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas).
The racket was busted after Renuka, in her 40s, and her husband Babu Sharma tried to sell the baby girl born in the nursing home last Thursday.
Some residents of Ghugudanga, on Dum Dum Road, were keeping an eye on the nursing home. “We had for some time suspected that something was amiss in the nursing home. There was talk of babies being sold and so we were alert,” said a resident of the area.
On Friday, the residents intercepted a female attendant leaving the nursing home with a baby girl. “They informed us about the incident but we kept it under wraps, while launching a discreet probe so as not to alert the nursing home officials,” said an investigating officer of Dum Dum police station.
In the course of investigation, the police learnt that Renuka and Babu would force the couples in question to sign an affidavit stating they had no claim over their child.
“Since the babies were illegitimate, the unwed mothers would sign the papers, granting the Sharmas control over the abandoned children’s destiny,” the officer added.
The nursing home owners would then sell the babies.
The probe also revealed how the Sharmas were in touch with some infertility clinics in the city and its outskirts. They would sell the babies through these clinics to childless couples.
“They would sometimes take an advance amount from a childless couple and promise to hand over a baby within a designated date,” police said.
The rescued girl child has been sent to Sukanya, a state-run home for girls in Salt Lake.
“She is a little underweight and we are taking special care of her. Our paediatricians have examined her and she is under medication and observation,” said a home official about their latest entrant among abandoned and rescued baby girls.