Monday, 30th October 2017

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Baby sale cuffs on shelter employee

A staffer of Nirmal Hriday was arrested on Wednesday and two others, including the sister-in-charge, were detained for questioning for allegedly selling a baby born to a minor inmate of the Missionaries of Charity-run shelter that is likely to be sealed on Thursday.

By VIJAY DEO JHA in Ranchi
  • Published 5.07.18
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Child panel officials and police come out of Nirmal Hriday on Jail Road in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Manob Chowdhary)

Ranchi: A staffer of Nirmal Hriday was arrested on Wednesday and two others, including the sister-in-charge, were detained for questioning for allegedly selling a baby born to a minor inmate of the Missionaries of Charity-run shelter that is likely to be sealed on Thursday.

Rupa Verma, the chairperson of Ranchi district child welfare committee (CWC) whose FIR on Wednesday led to the arrest of Anima Indwar, said they came to know of the "racket" after a couple from Uttar Pradesh knocked on their doors.

Saurabh Kumar Agarwal and wife Priti claimed they had paid Rs 1.20 lakh to the shelter on May 1 after which they were handed over a baby boy on May 14. On July 1, Anima asked them to come to the shelter on the pretext of completing formalities. When the couple met her the next day, she took the baby away and didn't return him as promised. The couple got suspicious and approached the child panel.

Based on Anima's interrogation, police believe at least three babies have been sold off, each for Rs 50,000, from the shelter on Jail Road.

Sister Koshleniea, the in-charge, and Sister Nirmala are being questioned and may also be arrested, police said.

The child panel has shifted all 16 inmates and 22 others staying at Nirmal Hriday's Hinoo branch to state-run shelters. "We are going to blacklist Nirmal Hriday in Jharkhand," Verma said, adding that they planned to seal the Jail Road home on Thursday.

According to Verma, the deal between the childless couple and Nirmal Hriday was brokered by a security guard of Ranchi Sadar Hospital, where the male baby was born on May 1. The shelter asked Agarwals to pay the money towards medical expenses of mother and child.

On June 30, Ranchi child protection officer Sevak Ram and social welfare officer Kanchan Singh paid a routine visit to Nirmal Hriday and found anomalies in details about pregnant inmates in the register, which they seized for probe.

"This caused panic and the Agarwals were summoned on the pretext of formalities. Anima took the baby away from the couple who were denied entry to Nirmal Hriday the next day. The couple approached the child panel on Tuesday," Kotwali thana OC S.N. Mandal said.

He added that Anima had been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. "The FIR has been lodged under Section 370 (buying/disposing of any person as a slave) of the IPC. She has been sent to Birsa jail."

Verma said all private and government shelters were governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and CWC guidelines.

"Many rescued minor girls are pregnant and they deliver babies at the sadar hospital here. After delivery, the child panel sets a deadline of 60 days for the biological mother to claim custody. Adoption is allowed under the law only if the biological mother denies custody. It is a complex social welfare process that shelter homes are not authorised to do," she explained.

Officials at the Calcutta headquarters of Missionaries of Charity said they were yet to receive any information on the matter.