In a major breakthrough in the grisly baby trafficking case, the police picked up the kingpin of the racket operating from Baduria in North 24-Parganas, Tapan Kumar Biswas, from a thatched house in Burdwan’s Memari in the wee hours of Sunday.
In his mid-forties, Biswas — who was known as a doctor but was actually a quack — had escaped the police dragnet on the night of November 21 when a team of the state police’s criminal investigation department (CID) arrested Nazma Biwi and her husband, two key figures of the syndicate, from Baduria.
Biswas was on the run since and used to change his hideout frequently. He shaved off his moustache, cropped his hair and kept changing clothes while moving from one place to another.
The day he left his Thakurnagar home in North 24-Parganas district, after being tipped off about the raid in Baduria, he chose not to use his own car and boarded a public bus instead. He also discarded the two SIM cards he used, purchased many new ones and called his contacts rarely.
However, it was one such call that gave him up and led the CID sleuths to his shelter in Memari.
It was around 6 pm on Saturday when Biswas called a woman relative to enquire about his physically challenged son who was with her. The sleuths, already tracking the calls of many of his relatives, were just waiting for this moment.
It was around 1.35 am when five cops in disguise, including a woman, knocked on the door of the house. A male voice enquired from inside about their identity and the cops said they were “friends of his guest”. There was silence for a few seconds, even as the door remained shut. Then the sleuths revealed their identity, prompting the host to open the door almost immediately.
As soon as they entered the house they saw Biswas half-inclined on a bed. As the team surrounded him, a woman officer stepped forward, slapped Biswas on his left cheek and asked him to get ready to go with them.
On his part, however, Biswas said that he was only “helping” childless couples keen to adopt orphaned newborns and babies.
With the arrest of Biswas, the total number of arrests in the case — that has spread to Kolkata and South 24-Parganas, revealing another racket operated from Sree Krishna Nursing Home in College Street and South View Nursing Home in Behala — has reached 18.
Basanti Chakraborty, an aide of Dr Santosh Kumar Samanta who was attached with Sree Krishna Nursing Home, was arrested on Saturday evening after he surrendered before the police. Altogether, 13 babies were rescued till Sunday.
So far CID has found the involvement of five establishments – two NGOs in Maslandapur and Thakurpukur and three nursing homes in Baduria, College Street and Behala.
Newborn girls were sold for about Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh if their complexion was dark, and between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh if they were fair. Baby boys were sold for Rs 2 lakh and more.
Police has slapped four sections of IPC and three of Juvenile Justice Act against all the accused. Murder charges will also be slapped if post mortem and forensic tests on the skeleton remains confirm that the racketeers also killed those babies that were not fit to be sold.