Chandigarh, April 19: The chief ministers of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana have agreed to cooperate on action against sex determination centres, which are illegal, and female foeticide.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress today responded to a Twitter appeal from his Haryana counterpart, Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP, and ordered the Punjab health department and police to launch a crackdown on sex determination centres operating in Punjab.
"I appeal to Punjab chief minister to deal with illegal sex determination centres firmly to ensure a bright future for all women," Khattar had tweeted last night, tagging Amarinder, popularly called Captain.
According to sources in the Punjab chief minister's office, Amarinder spoke to senior bureaucrats in the health department and the police to take stock of the situation before ordering the crackdown.
Over the past two years, the Haryana police and health department have conducted raids in at least 22 such centres operating in Punjab's Patiala, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mohali and Sultanpur.
"The raids had caused major embarrassment to the government. Most of them happened when the Akali-BJP government was in power, but they did not take any action. The new chief minister has ordered strict vigil," a senior official in the Punjab chief minister's office said.
According to health department sources, around 22 diagnostic centres with ultrasonography services in Punjab have been raided and some persons arrested.
The National Family Health Survey (2015-16) had indicated a sharp shift in the child sex ratio in both Punjab and Haryana. While the ratio was 860 girl children for every 1,000 boys in Punjab, it was 836 in Haryana.
According to the 2011 census, the sex ratio in Haryana was 879 girl children for every 1,000 boys and 895 in Punjab.
Last month, the Haryana government had said the ratio had improved to an all-time high of 950 girls for every 1,000 boys. Female foeticide is rampant in Haryana.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched in Panipat, Haryana, in January 2015.
"Complaints of illegal sex determination centres operating in Haryana are handled directly by the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao secretariat. The chief minister's office is apprised of all complaints. Obtaining permission for raids and arrests has become easier," a Haryana health official said.
In the two years since the scheme was launched, Haryana has filed over 400 FIRs.
Sources in the Haryana government said the crackdown in the state had forced the operators to switch base to Punjab.
"We have been getting information about illegal sex determination centres operating in Punjab. Whenever a Haryana link is established, we conduct raids," a source said.
"There is a wide network of operators in Punjab. They collaborate with their counterparts in Haryana and facilitate sex determination and abortions. Without the combined efforts of both states, it will not be possible to end the menace," a Punjab government official said.