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‘Who will take care of her now?’: Couples who ‘purchased’ babies from Hyderabad gang told to hand them over

Hyderabad | Updated: May 30, 2024 08:13 IST

Gang 'bought' babies from the poor in Delhi and Pune; childless couples 'selected' them on WhatsApp.

Women who ‘purchased’ the babies try to stop a vehicle from leaving with the infants in Hyderabad. (Express Photo)

“Who will take care of my daughter now?”

Outside the Rachakonda Police Commissioner’s office on Wednesday, this and many similar questions were raised by 15 couples, from whom police have taken away babies “purchased” over the past two to six months.

On Tuesday, police in Hyderabad busted an inter-state child trafficking racket and rescued 16 babies from a gang, which would “sell” them to childless couples in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for anywhere between Rs 1.8 lakh and Rs 5.5 lakh.

The couples, apart from having the infants taken away from them, are also facing a police case under sections of child trafficking and the Juvenile Justice Act. The babies have, meanwhile, been handed over to the state’s Women and Child Development department.

“The couples, as well as two women who had ‘bought’ the infants, had bonded with them… But what they have done is illegal,” said Inspector Govind Reddy from the Medipally police station.

Among those outside the police commissioner’s office on Wednesday was a woman from Manikonda, who had ‘purchased’ a three-month-old girl child. “I have become so close to her. I was taking care of her, pampering her. Who will take care of her now?’’ she said, adding that her husband had cautioned they may get into trouble.

“We do not have a child after years of marriage, and this girl brought so much joy into our lives,’’ she said.

Instead of knocking on the couples’ doors, police teams formed by Rachakonda Police Commissioner Dr Tarun Joshi had asked them to bring the children to the commissioner’s office.

A woman, who had come with her mother and a one-year-old boy to the office, said, “I don’t know what to do. In one instant my life is finished, my baby has been snatched from me. I don’t care if it is illegal, I was taking care of him like a mother… like he is my own child. What is the point in taking him away now?”

In one case, a couple had purchased a three-day-old girl child, and raised her for the past three months.

Many stood in front of the vehicles taking the babies away, pleading with constables to hand them back.

According to investigators, most of the couples had “chosen’’ the infants after seeing their photos on WhatsApp, shared by the agents and middlement. “They believe they were giving the babies a new life, by taking care of them as their own,” an official said.

Nine of the 16 infants traced and rescued so far were “sold” in Hyderabad and neighbouring areas, while seven were “sold” in Vijayawada, Srikakulam, and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.

Police said that once a couple ‘selected’ an infant and paid the full amount, the baby was brought either from New Delhi or Pune in a train or private transport and handed over to the couple. “The handover was always done at night, under the cover of darkness,’’ an inspector said.

Police have so far arrested two women, Shoba Rani and M Swapna, and a man named Shaik Saleem, who were allegedly trying to seal the deal to sell the infant. Since Rani is a registered medical practitioner (RMP), police are verifying the antecedents of other RMPs and “medical agents’’ who operate near IVF clinics.

A team of Rachakonda police has left for Delhi to track the agents there and try to find their biological parents. If the police are unable to track the biological parents, the children will be legally put for adoption, and the couples can apply at the time, an officer said.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

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