Thrashed along with her children and driven out of the house by her jobless daily wager-husband, a hooch addict, 15 days ago, 30-year-old Purnima Haldar sold all three of her daughters aged between 3 and 9 for Rs. 155 at the Diamond Harbour railway station near Kolkata recently.
She is believed to have told the police that she hadn't eaten for some days and the money would buy her two meals.
The children were rescued after Purnima told vendors at the railway station that she was compelled to sell them as they had not eaten properly for several days.
Purnima sold her youngest daughter three-and-a-half-year-old Rama for Rs. 30, seven-year-old Supriya for Rs. 25 and nine-year-old Priya for Rs. 100 to different buyers.The police have however refused to admit that the children were sold because of poverty.
"We are trying to find out what is the root of this incident," said the district magistrate of South 24 Parganas on Sunday.
Initially, when platform vendors asked Purnima about her daughters, she kept mum. She later admitted to having sold them when the vendors said they would inform police.
Purnima said a man came to her with a proposal to sell her daughters and she agreed.
So, Purnima sold her eldest daughter to a woman named Gouri Halder, who adopted her legally. Middle daughter Supriya was sold to a vegetable vendor and taken to a village in Baruipur where the vendor's married and childless daughter lived. It was not immediately known where and from whom the youngest child was rescued.
Local panchayat leader Odud Gazi said, "It is poverty that drove Purnima to sell her daughters but the couple never came to me for help."
The police have arrested Purnima's husband Uttam Haldar and are looking for the man who came to Purnima with the proposal that she sell her daughters.