Two more doctors have been arrested in the crackdown on infant trafficking, one of them for allegedly conspiring to replace a couple's healthy newborn with a dead baby at a private hospital in Behala.
Nityananda Biswas, a doctor in his late 50s attached to Mohonananda Brahmachari Sishu Seva Pratisthan in Behala, was picked up from his home in Parnasree.
His name had cropped up in the investigation after a couple visited Bhabani Bhavan on Monday and alleged that their healthy baby had been replaced with a dead one at the Behala hospital.
Dilip Ghosh, the other arrested doctor, had been under the scanner since the now infamous Sree Krishna Nursing Home on MG Road emerged as a key link in the baby-sale racket. He was attached to the nursing home for 22 years since 1990.
Dilip, a BJP member, was summoned to the CID headquarters at Bhabani Bhavan on Wednesday morning and arrested after a round of questioning. He failed to give satisfactory replies, said B.L. Meena, deputy inspector-general, CID.
The BJP's Bengal unit suspended Dilip from all party posts after the his arrest. "We have, however, retained him as a primary member until proved guilty or otherwise," it said.
He and Nityananda were produced in a Basirhat court and remanded in CID custody for nine days.
The number of arrests in the crackdown that started with a raid on a nursing home in Baduria, North 24-Parganas, has gone up to 20. In the past 10 days, the police have rescued 16 infants, three of them from the bank of a canal in Falta, South 24-Parganas, on Tuesday. Three newborns had been found in a biscuit carton lying in a locked room of Sohan Nursing Home & Polyclinic in Baduria during the CID raid on the night of November 21.
The complaint that led to Nityananda's arrest was lodged by a man named Ashish Sarkar and his wife Kanan. The couple said they had been taken to Mohonananda Brahmachari Sishu Seva Pratisthan by Tapan Biswas, a quack from Bongaon arrested recently in Burdwan.
"My wife gave birth to a baby girl on July 14, 2014, at a nursing home in Rudrapur, near Habra. Tapan told me that our newborn had a hole in her heart and immediate surgery was needed. He advised us to take the baby to the Behala hospital, saying he had contacts there. I trusted him and shifted our baby there," Ashish told Metro.
On reaching the Behala hospital, a doctor examined the baby and said nothing was wrong with her. "But Tapan introduced another doctor as a cardiologist, who said my daughter would have to undergo a surgery," he recounted.
According to Ashish, who works in construction, his newborn daughter was shifted to a separate room. "My wife fell asleep after being given an injection and did not wake up until the next morning. She was then told that our daughter could not be saved. They gave us the body of a similar looking baby girl," Ashish said.
The police have since identified Nityananda as the doctor who had been introduced to the Sarkar couple as a cardiologist. "Tapan has admitted that the couple's baby was trafficked the same night in 2014," a CID officer said.
Sunil Nag, superintendent of the Behala hospital, said Nityananda was a consultant with an MBBS degree. The death certificate of the Sarkars' baby daughter bears Nag's signature. "I signed the death certificate but I am not aware of the dispute," he said.