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Partha rap on Panja

Minister Partha Chatterjee said on Wednesday that only the chief minister would speak in public on behalf of the government on the baby-sale racket, a statement that comes a day after colleague Sashi Panja opened her mouth on the issue.

Panja, the minister for women and child development and social welfare, had on Tuesday urged relatives of pregnant women to be alert about babies immediately after delivery.The day after, education and parliamentary affairs minister Chatterjee, who is also secretary-general of Trinamul, said the issue was "very sensitive".

"Trafficking of newborn babies is a very sensitive issue. Mamata Banerjee has ordered a CID investigation into it. So it would be inappropriate for me to give any statement," he said during a news conference in the Assembly.

"The chief minister-cum-health minister would make statements to the media (on the issue) when required."

Sources in the party said the leadership was "displeased" with Panja's statements at a media interaction on Tuesday. "The chief minister has decided to personally deal with the issue," a source said.

If a nursing home claims that a woman has delivered a stillborn baby, her relatives should demand to see the baby, Panja had said in response to questions on her department's role in connection with the baby-sale racket.

The sources said Panja had been asked to avoid talking to the media on the issue.

"The leadership thinks she has unnecessarily talked too much and has spoken to her. She has been asked to avoid media interaction till further notice," a party source said. "The chief minister is likely to address the issue soon after returning to Calcutta."

At least 13 infants have been rescued since last Monday from Baduria in North 24-Parganas and Thakurpukur.

The baby-sale racket was unearthed after the CID raided Sohan Nursing Home and Polyclinic in Baduria last Monday and found three newborns in biscuit cartons.

The three to five-day-old babies were about to smuggled out when sleuths reached the spot. One of the newborns, a girl, has since been reunited with her parents.


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