An inter-state newborn trafficking racket run from Gwalior’s Palash Nursing Home could have been busted three years ago if the health department had acted on a tip-off of a former doctor of the nursing home.
In the letter dated October 10, 2013, Dr Gaurav Mishra, a former doctor at the hospital, had reportedly informed then chief medical and health officer (CMHO) about the illegal practices being carried out in the nursing home and requested the department to revoke its registration. However, no action was taken in the matter.
HT is in possession of a copy of the letter. The inter-state racket was busted when crime branch sleuths, acting on a tip-off, raided the nursing home, located in Morar area, on April 18 and recovered a newborn boy and a girl with no record of their birth and other mandatory details. Police have arrested owner TK Gupta and co-director Arun Bhadoria.
On Thursday, Mishra told HT he “failed to understand why the health department officials didn’t take strict action and remained silent all the time, despite being alerted” in October 2013.
Mishra was questioned by the Gwalior police on Wednesday. He was let off the hook when he showed them a copy of the October 2013 letter. “I should not be held responsible for any illegal act carried out by TK Gupta as I had disassociated myself from the hospital,” he said.
Mishra and his wife Dr Nidhi Mishra, a gynaecologist, were enrolled as panel doctors of the hospital when it was registered in August 2013. But they quit the panel within two months on October 10, 2013.
Mishra also told HT that several doctors, nurses and paramedic employees from other nursing homes used to visit Palash “for confidential and suspicious discussions/activities with TK Gupta.” He said pregnant women from rural areas, who were admitted to government hospitals, were easy prey for ASHA workers, who were the main players of the trafficking racket.
“ASHA workers picked pregnant women on pretext of non-caesarean, safe, fast and economical delivery at Palash …For normal deliveries anything between Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000 were charged and Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 was paid as commission to ASHA workers by Palash hospital,” he added.
Gwalior CMHO Anoop Kamthan told HT that registrations of nursing homes were renewed every three years.
“Renewal of Palash nursing home’s registration was disallowed on April 8 when it came for consideration through an online request due to non-fulfillment of criteria, including staff,” he said. There are at least 174 private nursing homes/hospitals operational in the district.
Kamthan, however, evaded giving a direct reply on why action was not taken against Palash nursing home despite warning by Dr Mishra in 2013. He said: “It was their (between Dr Gaurav and TK Gupta) personal matter.”
1,800 deliveries in 3 years
The police have claimed to gathered crucial lead during interrogation of hospital manager Arun Bhadoria and owner TK Gupta about the number of deliveries at the hospital
According to sources, the nursing home conducted over 1,800 deliveries in three years
Apart from the duo, a visiting consultant, ASHA workers and paramedic hospital staff also benefitted from each deal
Police have recovered voluminous documents from different places relating to Palash nursing home, Gwalior ASP Kumar Prateek said
He added that efforts were on to find the biological parents of the children abandoned, including the one admitted at the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) and another at Gupta’s house.
One of the newborns recovered from the hospital on April 18 died recently.
Notices were issued to six doctors, including Dr Gaurav Mishra, Dr Nidhi Mishra, Dr Sunil Sharma, Dr BM Dinkar, Dr BS Narwaria and Dr Abishek Vajpayee
Two fresh notices will be issued to Dr Sachin Shrivastava and Dr Neha Premi Agrawal
Dr Shrivastava is a government doctor (paediatrics) and posted at Bhitarwar block in Gwalior district.