The inter-state newborn trafficking racket was being run at the Gwalior-based nursing home for the last four years, police said on Monday.
The racket was busted on Sunday when crime branch sleuths, acting on a tip-off, raided the nursing home and found two newborns with no record of their birth and other mandatory details. The manager of the hospital told police that the babies were kept for sale to customers who could offer to them an amount between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
The Palash Hospital, owned by TK Gupta, that started functioning five years ago and was allegedly set up as a camouflage to run the illegal trade, Gwalior additional superintendent of police (ASP) Kumar Prateek told HT on Monday.
The ASP said investigations so far indicated the racket was being run for the last four years and that it was being operated with the help of agents present across the Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh, adjoining Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The police suspect several babies, abandoned by unmarried mothers or impoverished couples who couldn’t afford to raise them, could have been sold for hefty sum.
So far police have rescued two newborns from the private hospital, while they suspect one baby is with Gupta, who is on the run. Two more babies have already been sold to couples in Lucknow and Dabra in Gwalior, they said.
Meanwhile, on Monday, police produced Palash Hospital co-director Arun Bhadoria in a local court and sought four-day custody for further interrogation. Bhadoria, who was arrested on Sunday after a former employee tipped-off police, confessed that the nursing home was selling newborns for anything between `50,000 and `1 lakh.
Police also raided Gupta’s house in Maheshpura-Moral locality, but were unable to find him or the newborn he had allegedly kept for sale.
“We’ll be sending teams to Lucknow and other places to track those who had bought the newborns through the racket being run at the private hospital. Efforts will also be made to track the biological parents of the newborns,” the Gwalior ASP said, adding that some other private nursing homes and hospitals in Gwalior too were under the police scanner for running similar rackets.
Five people, including Gupta, Bhadoria, Anupam Chauhan, Rinki and another person, have been booked on charges of human trafficking in the case.